GFM Network News


Not your typical harvest scene: Dill being harvested at Dale Thacker Specialty Crops.

Specialty crop farmer leverages the power of irrigation

And others will do the same as massive irrigation expansion comes online, says Dale Thacker

Reading Time: 5 minutes If you’ve ever chewed a stick of gum or used a minty toothpaste, there’s a reasonable chance the spearmint inside is from Dale Thacker’s farm. The southeastern Alberta producer has been growing specialty crops — starting with spearmint and expanding into a host of others — for more than three decades. Most depend on irrigation […] Read more

Updated CropChoices$ now available online

Updated CropChoices$ now available online

Reading Time: < 1 minute The 2021 edition of CropChoices$ is now online. The free budgeting and economic modelling tool can help when finalizing crop plans. The program helps forecast revenues and margins for grains, oilseeds, pulses, specialty and forage crops by using inputs and then calculating the probabilities of achieving the results. The latest edition features current crop insurance […] Read more


More irrigation being contemplated

More irrigation being contemplated

Reading Time: < 1 minute More irrigation could be coming to Alberta. A study will be undertaken to see if expanding irrigation in the Special Areas and the MD of Acadia is doable, the province says. The Special Areas board and municipality are working with the province and the Canada Infrastructure Bank (which put up most of the money for […] Read more

The Chin Reservoir — which is earmarked for expansion under an $815-million trilateral agreement — provides water to three irrigation districts: St. Mary, Raymond and Taber. Pictured is the Chin Reservoir where it feeds into the Stafford Reservoir.

Major expansion of Chin Reservoir being planned

The Chin will be one of two reservoir expansions in historic 200,000-acre irrigation project

Reading Time: 4 minutes Details of an $815-million irrigation expansion agreement are slowly trickling in. The Chin Reservoir is one of two off-stream reservoirs to be expanded as part of adding more than 200,000 acres to the province’s 1.7 million acres of existing irrigation, an irrigation district official said. “We’re still in the planning stages of how much we’re […] Read more


The stunning beauty of the Eastern Slopes makes it easy to understand opposition to coal mining in the area. But those who live and ranch there, like John Smith of the Plateau Cattle Company, say the threat extends far further east as the watershed is critical for the farms, ranches and feedlots on the plains below.

COAL MINING: Quiet policy change sparks a fast-spreading uproar

Ranchers and landowners unite and gird for battle after province opens the door to new mines

Reading Time: 7 minutes [UPDATED: April 20, 2021] The threat of open-pit mining in the Eastern Slopes has Laura Laing spending hours every day researching everything from coal exploration techniques to selenium contamination. It has Callum Sears frustrated and angry. And they are just two of a host of ranchers and landowners in the southern foothills — and beyond […] Read more

The new 10-person board overseeing the research funding organization was elected by its 33 members.

New research funding agency gets first elected board

Farmers make up the majority of the directors overseeing Results Driven Agriculture Research

Reading Time: 2 minutes Like other birthday celebrations this past year, there was not a party. But Results Driven Agriculture Research (RDAR) marked one year of existence by announcing, on a Zoom meeting, the members of its first elected board. The new 10-person board overseeing the research funding organization (replacing one appointed by the province) was elected by its […] Read more


Thanks to Jim Lundgren, who farms at Glenora, Man., about 85 km west of Morden, for this photo of his early start to spring tillage on March 20, 2021, owing to the recent absence of snow and/or rain in the area. Not that it’s a race, but is spring fieldwork already underway where you are? If yes, feel free to snap a photo and email us at daveb@fbcpublishing.com. (Photo courtesy Jim Lundgren)

Manitoba soil temperatures allow for spring fertilizer

Winter ban lifted, with cautions

Farmers across Manitoba are now cleared to apply spring fertilizers including livestock manure on their fields, thanks to sufficiently warm soil temperatures, the province said Tuesday. Though the winter nutrient ban has been lifted, the province cautioned producers to “assess current weather conditions and periodically check weather forecasts” if they’re applying anytime between now and […] Read more

Agriculture Minister Devin Dreeshen cites funding for the Food Processing Development Centre in Leduc as a key part of his government’s efforts to bring plant protein processing to Alberta. But the opposition NDP says the government has to do what other provinces have done and put money into new processing facilities.

‘Actively trying’ to attract value-added processing, says minister

Government says more processing is a priority, but opposition says other provinces pulling ahead

Reading Time: 2 minutes Alberta is lagging behind the other Prairie provinces when it comes to plant protein processing — but the provincial government is working on it, says the agriculture minister. “Whether it’s canola processing, plant proteins, greenhouses, agri-technology, hemp — there are numerous types of commodities that we’re trying to attract value-added investment domestically and internationally to […] Read more


These three pictures from last summer tell a mighty tale of what irrigation can do: On the left, Jason Hale’s granddaughter Blayk stands in a forage corn crop on his Bassano-area farm on June 21; the middle photo was taken July 7; and the one on the right was taken July 21. “It’s amazing how fast this corn grows in two weeks,” Hale tweeted when posting the July 21 photo.

Irrigation mega-project takes next big step

Farmers in southeast back plan for huge expansion of Snake Lake Reservoir

Reading Time: 4 minutes Farmers in southeast Alberta have given a big thumbs up to a major chunk of a historic $815-million expansion of the province’s irrigation system. Three-quarters of the 648 producers in the Eastern Irrigation District who voted in a plebiscite last month cast ballots in favour of an irrigation allotment increase that allows a $170-million expansion […] Read more

Pictured is the Snake Lake Reservoir, about 20 kilometres southeast of Bassano, as it is today. The area outlined in red shows an expansion which will add 53,000 acre-feet to the reservoir.

No extra water required in irrigation acreage expansion, says report

Move to underground pipe and low-pressure pivots means more crop per drop

Reading Time: 2 minutes The Eastern Irrigation District’s decision to expand its irrigation acres brings up a couple of questions. Perhaps the biggest is: Where is the extra water coming from? The answer: There’s no extra water required. According to a feasibility study conducted by the province, the 34,000-acre expansion will not require any additional draw from river sources. […] Read more