Latest articles


Proceed with caution when it comes to micronutrients, says agronomist

It’s not hard to spend thousands of dollars on micronutrients that aren’t needed or produce little benefit, 
says Ross McKenzie

Farmers need to put on their critical thinking caps when dealing with micronutrient claims — or risk spending lots of money for no or marginal results. There is a lot of hype surrounding supplemental micronutrients right now, said Ross McKenzie, a retired agronomy research scientist. However, not all micronutrients are created equally; some of the […] Read more


Carbon credit program ain’t what it used to be

A rising carbon tax should put more money 
in farmers’ pockets, 
but participation rates have gone down

Greenhouse gases were on the minds of many Alberta farmers a decade ago when no till offered good cash from selling carbon offset credits. Fast-forward to 2017 and things have changed. Although there is still a lot of participation in the province’s carbon credit trading and sequestration program, many believe it has become too demanding, […] Read more



Farmers who know the ropes stay with the program

It takes time and effort to fulfil the record-keeping requirements 
for the carbon trading program

It’s difficult to track exactly how many farmers participate in the province’s carbon trading program. The tonnage of carbon traded by producers has been constant in the last few years, but there’s likely been a drop-off since 2012 when the ability to claim historical carbon credits ended, said a greenhouse gas agrologist with Alberta Agriculture […] Read more


Do your homework before installing tile drainage

Finding out what constitutes a wetland and finding a suitable outlet for drained water are two key considerations

Tile drainage is becoming increasingly popular among Alberta producers concerned about losing valuable land and inputs to excess water. Although tile drainage can be beneficial, it is not without its dangers if a system is designed incorrectly — or if producers don’t know the rules. In Alberta, tile drainage systems — like all drainage or […] Read more



Making sense of today’s grain storage options

There are more options for grain storage today than ever before, but which ones are best for your farm?

Today’s grain storage is not like yesterday’s grain storage. Not only are farms generally bigger, necessitating higher capacity for on-farm storage, but storage also plays a crucial role in crop producers’ marketing strategies. It can also be expensive. According to provincial government data, grain bin prices have increased from $2.50 per bushel in 2004 to […] Read more


Geo-exchange: down but not out

Although lower natural gas prices have taken some 
of the shine off geo-exchange systems, they can still have 
a place in a renewable energy setup

Geo-exchange heating and cooling systems were big a decade ago, but that was before natural gas prices plunged and the payback of using the ground as a heat source in the winter and a heat sink in the summer became less attractive. But don’t count this technology out quite yet, said energy specialist Thomas Barr, […] Read more



Which geo-exchange setup is right for you?

Geo-exchange systems come in four configurations: Open well Requires a retention well and a rejection well, which generally requires drilling 40 to 250 feet deep, and that raises the spectre of cross-contamination. “Here in Alberta, when you drill vertically you’re possibly going through five to 10 different kinds of sediment layers,” said Thomas Barr of […] Read more


Alberta producers asking big questions about solar power

There’s huge interest in this technology and issues such as payback, 
fixed costs, and government programs are top of mind

There’s no doubt that the government of Alberta is betting big on renewable energy. The goal is to get 30 per cent of Alberta’s electricity needs from renewable energy by 2030, and it earmarked $5.5 million last year to help farms and municipalities develop solar power projects. With that kind of big money comes big […] Read more



Can producers make money as solar power providers?

The province is currently consulting stakeholders on a framework that could help farmers do this

In many places, farmers are allowed to turn a profit by tying their solar power systems into the electrical grid. Albertans can export solar electricity to the grid — but there are currently no programs allowing system sizes larger than those that meet on-site electrical requirements. “Alberta’s micro-generation law was crafted for homeowners, business owners, […] Read more


Farm buildings getting bigger, but also stronger

Diaphragm bracing has been key as farm buildings become larger and larger

One comment Steven Adema often hears is that his company’s building designs are getting heavier. But the engineer with Tacoma Engineers in Guelph, Ontario argues that heaviness is not the culprit — the buildings are simply getting bigger in order to accommodate producer needs and government regulations. “For comparison’s sake we pulled an old Beaver […] Read more