GFM Network News


Sainfoin is prized because it prevents bloat when seeded with alfalfa, but it has taken years of work by Agriculture Canada forage breeder Surya Acharya to develop a hardy variety.

Sainfoin story keeps getting better

Sainfoin is a marvel when it comes to eliminating bloat, but earlier varieties were outcompeted by alfalfa

It’s been neglected for years, but sainfoin is poised to come into its own, with the first new variety that regrows quickly after cutting or grazing due to come onto the market in 2015. In rotational grazing trials at Lethbridge last year, sainfoin-alfalfa pastures produced more than 400 kilograms of beef per hectare with no […] Read more

Survival of the fittest key to developing new variety

Plant breeders usually look at huge numbers of plants when searching for particular traits. But Agriculture Canada research scientist Surya Acharya took a survival-of-the-fittest approach to finding a hardy and competitive sainfoin variety for alfalfa-sainfoin pastures. He transplanted plugs of seedlings into pure alfalfa stands, and used those that thrived to create the new Mountainview […] Read more


Fertilizer — prepare for worst-case scenario

Post-seeding application is one option, while healthy seed and timely 
spraying can boost crop prospects

Prepare for the worst-case scenario, then things may not be as bad as you think.” That’s Ray Dowbenko’s advice for dealing with the tight fertilizer situation. The senior agronomist with Agrium thinks there may be shortages this spring, but not everywhere. “A lot will depend on your relationship with your retailer and your retailer’s relationships […] Read more

Under irrigation, yields from the soil zones didn’t change when the fertilizer was adjusted to precisely match the perceived needs of each area.

Water management beats precision fertilizing on irrigated land

Higher organic matter gives crops a big nitrogen boost and so it’s better to focus on water management, study finds

It seems fertilizer prescriptions matched to the needs of various areas of a field doesn’t give much of a return under irrigation. That’s the conclusion of an Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development study of responses to applying fertilizer according to the needs of the field’s soil zones. The project included dryland and irrigated fields with […] Read more


Jan Slaski checks plants in a nursery field of “Silesia” industrial hemp seed in 2013.

Industrial hemp acres on the rise, especially in southern Alberta

Industrial hemp has a huge variety of uses, and is gaining new markets for both seed and fibre

Industrial hemp is moving into the mainstream and Alberta is at the forefront, says a researcher who has been helping to develop the crop for more than a decade. Upwards of 100,000 acres will be grown in Canada this year, said Jan Slaski, a crop physiologist with Alberta Innovates Technology Futures in Vegreville. “Processors have […] Read more

Don Huber claims several plant diseases are on the rise because of glyphosate use.

Anti-glyphosate crusader accuses herbicide of causing a host of ills

Don Huber is a darling of farm critics, but once again refused to offer evidence for his claim during a Lethbridge visit

Don Huber has become the darling of organic farming fans and notorious among farmers and scientists for his opposition to glyphosate and genetically engineered crops. The retired plant pathologist from Purdue University, who has a long and distinguished CV, laid out some of the science — and his personal beliefs — for stance for attendees […] Read more


Plant diseases to look for in 2014

Provincial officials say the story for 2013 was of extremely localized disease 
outbreaks and the one for this coming year could be the arrival of new threats

Last year underscored the need for timely scouting for crop diseases. “Disease patterns matched the weather,” provincial pathology researcher Mike Harding said at last month’s 2014 Irrigation Update conference. “Different conditions led to serious disease issues in one area and virtually none just 20 miles away.” For example, cereal leaf spot diseases were widespread especially […] Read more

Economists say management makes the difference in cow-calf profits

Studies done in Alberta and Saskatchewan both found that lowering 
days on feed is the key to boosting profitability

Cow-calf producers should expect margins to shrink in the coming years and will have to improve their management to maintain profitability, say two economists. Producers should work on the assumption that average margins will be five per cent smaller five years from now, said Dale Kaliel, senior production economist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. […] Read more


Engineer says running fans continuously is not a smart move

Ron Palmer says moisture levels often rise during the day, even when the fans are running, and it makes sense to only operate them intermittently

Conventional wisdom says you should run fans 24/7 for six weeks or so after harvest to dry down grain. But conventional wisdom is wrong and will not only needlessly run up your power bill, but could also lower grain quality, says a University of Regina professor of electronic systems engineering. Instead, Ron Palmer recommends running […] Read more

Nuffield scholars say seeing the world makes it smaller

Scholars obtain insights into ag issues through program that allows them to study topic of their choice in countries around the globe

Being a Nuffield scholar changed the way Crosby Devitt saw the world — and Canada’s place in global agriculture. “My travels have been a time of personal and professional growth. I’ve made connections and friends from around the world — the world seems smaller now,” said the grains and oilseeds producer who farms near Lake […] Read more