Latest articles

Canada thistle: Meet your worst nightmare

Every rancher hates this hard-to-control weed, but stem mining weevils just eat them up (from the inside)

Every year, Canada thistle takes a big bite out of the productivity of Alberta forage and grasslands. But an increasing number of producers is biting back — in a wholly natural way. In late August, the West-Central Forage Association will once again import hundreds of cartons of little black bugs from an insectary in Montana. […] Read more

Auditor general’s report fires up grazing lease debate

The auditor general says ranchers are scooping up millions in payments that should go to the province, but leaseholders say that’s nonsense

A new report on Alberta’s grazing lease system by the provincial auditor general is throwing fuel on the long-simmering, controversial debate. The report estimates the province could be losing up to $25 million annually by allowing ranchers to keep compensation from energy companies when they drill or lay a pipeline. The report also says the […] Read more

pasture field

Variable-rate irrigation on the rise in Alberta

Not everyone is convinced the technology is where it needs to be, but advocates say ‘interest is growing exponentially’

Southern Alberta’s irrigation system is on the cusp of going very high tech. Now that crop yield monitoring is commonplace and variable-rate crop-input technology making inroads, ag equipment companies and early adopters of advanced technology are setting their sights on micromanaging irrigation. “Variable-rate irrigation (VRI) is certainly here to stay,” said Jeff Bronsch, president of […] Read more

mussell samples on display

Alarm bells ringing in Alberta as invasive mussels move west

The arrival of the devastating invaders in Manitoba has led to mandatory inspections here

Alberta introduced tough new legislation last month requiring mandatory boat inspections — a ramping up of the effort to keep zebra and quagga mussels out of the province. But officials admit that what’s really needed is public buy-in — and a little luck — to keep these devastating waterway invaders at bay. “If we ‘miss […] Read more

Winter wheat uptake low despite big efforts to convince producers

The Western Winter Wheat Initiative wants to boost seeding to two million acres — but 2014 plantings were just a third of that

The goal is ambitious — convince Prairie farmers to plant two million acres of winter wheat by 2019 — but the backers of the Western Winter Wheat Initiative admit they have a steep hill to climb. Even though winter wheat yields were 32 per cent better than those for spring wheat in 2012 and offered […] Read more

Winter wheat acres should double or triple: expert

AgCanada scientist says winter wheat acres could hit the five-million mark, if crop insurance rules allowed later seeding

If spring comes late or is wet seven months from now, growers waiting to plant spring wheat will be looking with envy at neighbours’ fields of winter wheat. But there should be less envy and more winter wheat than the one million to 1.5 million acres currently grown on the Prairies, says Brian Beres, a […] Read more

Fertilizer warning: Don’t pay $12 an acre for ‘foo-foo dust’

Buyer beware, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency no longer tests fertilizers for efficacy and quality

A“streamlining” of federal oversight of fertilizers has opened the door to deceptive marketing claims and forced product testing on to farmers. “There have always been con men trying to sell you things with dubious claims. It’s just maybe easier for them now,” said Harry Brook, a crop specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. “All […] Read more

Alberta potato growers fearful of future

So far, high quality along with a strong reputation for hardy and virus-free seed stock has kept potato acreage steady in Alberta

The humble potato is suffering a very bad rap of late — and that has Alberta growers worried. Although full of vitamins, nutrients and fibre, the longtime staple has become vilified in the last decade and grouped with sugar and white flour as an obesity-causing ‘white food.’ And changing demographics and tastes has more North […] Read more

No hill of beans: fababean acreage soars, soybeans may be next

Faba bean acreage has increased tenfold in two years and could double again next year, with soybeans following suit

Every farmer knows a four-year crop rotation is best for good crops, healthy fields and managing pests. However, the four-year ideal often clashes with production reality: canola has been the big money-maker, and while legumes are good for nitrogen fixing, they usually pay less and can present big challenges with disease, standability and harvestability compared […] Read more

It’s Canada’s biggest crop – but forage research remains a hard sell

There has been a dramatic drop in forage research, but it’s not just because producers could make more money growing canola

More than 52 million acres in Alberta are currently used to graze livestock or produce crops like alfalfa and timothy hay, but farmers who manage grasslands and forage fields say their industry is declining so rapidly its future is at risk. “The long-term graph of forage research shows a dramatic drop — probably 70 per […] Read more