GFM Network News


The County of Grande Prairie is giving farmers this sign to post in unharvested fields.

Ask first — snowmobile later

In some parts of the province, there’s a 50-50 chance there’s an unharvested crop beneath the snow

With winter firmly in place and 40 to 60 per cent of crops still in the fields, the County of Grande Prairie has a message for winter recreation enthusiasts: If you’re going to snowmobile on farmers’ property, ask first. The county is issuing up to five free signs per farm urging people to get the […] Read more

Today’s drones are great at selecting pastures and tracking cattle, can read an ear tag from 70 metres up, and offer spectral imaging a hundred times more powerful than satellites, says researcher John Church. And while they’re not good at herding, drone technology is close to offering health assessments of individual cows.

Plunging prices and better tech should put drones on your radar

Drones with sophisticated imaging tech can be robust precision tools for managing cattle on pasture

Producers are always being pitched new technology, and the marketing din is arguably louder than ever in this age of precision agriculture. So when producers ask if unmanned aerial vehicles are just expensive toys, it’s a fair question. While John Church would be the first to admit he has a lot of fun researching the […] Read more


The Spornado can tell if a spore pathogen is present but you still have to figure out if it’s worth applying fungicide.

Spornado causes a whirlwind of new research

There’s an affordable way to detect fusarium or sclerotinia spores — but it’s not one-and-done technology

A device that helps alert growers to the presence of airborne pathogens has been popping up in some Alberta cereal and canola fields in the last couple of years. But while Spornado — and in-crop spore detection in general — is promoted as a tool to take the guesswork out of fungicide application decisions, this […] Read more

CDC Copeland and AC Metcalfe are the undisputed heavyweights of Western Canada’s malt barley scene, accounting for 78 per cent of malt acres this year. But both are two decades old and new varieties such as CDC Bow — which has improved standability and lower beta-glucan content — may challenge that duopoly.

Better barley: There’s a long wish list for brewers and feeders

Yield is No. 1 for growers but elements such as ‘Lox,’ beta-glucan, and acid detergent fibre are key, too

Ask most barley producers what they want in a variety and the answers won’t surprise you: Better yield, standability and disease resistance. But when it comes to buyers, it gets a little more complex. Both foreign and domestic customers — especially beer makers, but also feeders — are looking for traits few people even thought […] Read more


Farmfair runs from Nov. 6-10 at the Edmonton EXPO Centre.

What’s new in 2019 at Farmfair International

Big-eared bunnies, a honey show, craft market, and learn-in-a-hurry presentations are part of this year’s lineup

Every year, Farmfair International is offering new events and programs to keep the long-running ag show fresh for attendees. This is especially important this year as Northlands — the organizers of Farmfair — strive to attract guests who may not ordinarily attend an agricultural event. This year’s show is being held Nov. 6-10 at the […] Read more

The Extreme Cowboys competition, an obstacle course that tests horsemanship skills, calls itself “the fastest-growing equine sport.” It’s making its Farmfair debut this year.

Northlands strikes a balance for Farmfair 2019

Farmfair organizers attempt to boost urban visitors while staying true to the show’s roots

With a new focus on attracting urban audiences, Farmfair International’s organizers are offering new kinds of programming while keeping old fans happy. The first step was thinking beyond cattle. Farmfair 2019, which runs Nov. 6-10 at the Edmonton EXPO Centre, features programming dedicated to smaller critters such as bees, rabbits and urban chickens — not […] Read more


New malt varieties are being developed that nearly match the yields of feed and that will create new interest in barley, says breeder Aaron Beattie.

Is barley making a comeback?

The crop doesn’t generate a lot of excitement but that may be changing

If you stopped looking at Prairie acreage numbers two years ago, you can be forgiven for thinking barley is not the sexiest crop choice out there. Although it grabs lots of Alberta acres because of malting and feedlot demand, the barley sector is perceived to be slow to develop new varieties and tethered to inflexible […] Read more

Kochia has taken over this abandoned well site and stands nearly as tall as Kevin Serfas. The Turin farmer says his calls to the energy companies that own several dozen similar sites on his family’s farming operation go unanswered. And managing the weeds would require “a full-time guy,” he said.

Farmers lose — and weeds win — when energy companies walk away

When well sites are abandoned, the rent cheques 
often stop while the noxious weeds flourish

“Kochia six feet tall and completely covering the whole leases. We have many that look like this. When I phone, no one even answers the phones.” This tweet from Lethbridge-area farmer Kevin Serfas in August likely could have been written by any one of hundreds of Alberta producers with abandoned well sites on their farms. […] Read more


The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers has been lobbying the Alberta Energy Regulator to “expedite” energy project approvals whenever possible.

Landowners’ rights in danger of being eroded, says advocate

Energy association wants review process streamlined, which could limit the ability to raise concerns

A growing number of abandoned energy leases in Alberta might make farmers wonder if it’s worth allowing an energy company to come onto their land in the first place. However, a “pro-oil and gas regulatory environment” may make it more difficult to express concern over proposed energy projects, says Daryl Bennett, a director with the […] Read more

Calgary-based Bio-Cycle Solutions says it has spread its compost-based product on about four million acres.

It’s cheap and plentiful but is elemental sulphur a fertilizer option?

A Calgary company says its compost-based product fits the bill, but you need to think longer term

[UPDATE: Oct. 10, 2019] When you consider the cost and bulkiness of conventional sulphur fertilizers, producers can hardly be blamed for seeking out alternatives to meet their crops’ sulphate needs. One of these alternatives is elemental sulphur — a byproduct of the oil and gas industry that is plentiful and cheap in Alberta. But should […] Read more