GFM Network News


A small parcel of less productive land seeded to pollinator-friendly plants drew an “amazing” number of native bees, said Rocky Mountain House producer Vance Graham, one of 38 Alberta participants in Operation Pollinator.

Alberta producers create a buzz on their farms with pollinator program

Program encourages farmers to seed an acre or two with plants that attract pollinators and build biodiversity

Vance Graham’s land is now more attractive to bees, and all he had to do was plant a few seed packets. Graham is one of 38 Alberta farmers who signed up for Operation Pollinator, a project run by Syngenta and the Soil Conservation Council of Canada. “They wanted it on an area of ground that […] Read more

In a video profiling Shoestring Ranch, Ian Murray describes the philosophy that drives management decisions at his operation.

First the cows, then the grass, and then the soil

Winner of top environmental award for cattle producers says stewardship is a journey that never ends

‘Sustainable’ isn’t a word that finds a lot of favour with this year’s winner of one of the provincial farm sector’s leading environmental awards. “I prefer to use the word regenerative,” Ian Murray says in a video portraying the work he and wife Carman have done at Shoestring Ranch. “I don’t want our ranch to […] Read more


Provincial forage and beef specialist Karin Lindquist (left) and Kaitlin McLachlan, extension co-ordinator with Peace Country Beef and Forage Association, examine some roots during a pasture walk near 
Fourth Creek.

New non-bloating legume can power up your pastures

After years of development, a new and improved 
sainfoin variety is being field tested across the province

High-legume pastures can be profitable and productive, but many cattle producers are scared to use them because of the risk of bloat. That’s why Alberta Agriculture and Forestry along with the Agricultural Research and Extension Council of Alberta have teamed up to do sainfoin trials across the province. “Sainfoin is a non-bloating legume,” provincial beef […] Read more



An influx of gophers is ripping up the land and making holes at Ian Murray’s place near Acme.

It’s not your imagination — there are more gophers this year

Sadly, there aren’t many control methods that can reduce the large gopher population

If you think you’ve got more gophers than usual, you’re probably right. The gopher problem is particularly bad this year, particularly in central and east-central Alberta. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Ian Murray, a cattle rancher who lives near Acme. “It’s absolutely astounding.” Last year, the gophers flourished near Murray’s canola fields and […] Read more

Protecting habitat for species at risk, as well as common species such as the red-tailed hawks, comes with an added benefit of pest control.

Environmental farm plans to cover species at risk

A new online tool will include technical tips and best management practices for protecting species at risk and habitat

The Alberta Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) is adding a species-at-risk component. A $200,000 federal grant will be used to create an online tool to help producers learn about opportunities to conserve species at risk on their farms and find out whether they meet sustainable sourcing standards. Last summer, the Agricultural Research and Extension Council of […] Read more


Odette Menard, an agricultural engineer and soil conservation expert with Quebec’s Ministry of Agriculture, speaks to a packed house during the Western Canada Conference on Soil Health.  

International Year of Soils ends with a bang in Alberta

Attendees at sold-out conference say it was a thrill to gather with people who ‘get’ soil health

If the International Year of Soils didn’t seem like a big deal — then you weren’t at the Western Canada Conference On Soil Health earlier this month. That is, if you could get in. “We originally planned for 250 people, and we had room for 300,” said conference co-chair Tom Fromme. “The facility was able […] Read more

This year’s field day at the Peace Country Beef and Forage Association’s plot trials in Fairview in August drew a big crowd, eager to learn about yields and feed quality in their forage test plots.

Hay! Guess who’s hiring a forage researcher?

New forage research job at Beaverlodge is a pleasant surprise 
after years of funding cutbacks

The forage industry has been asking for more researchers for a long time and finally, it seems the federal government has listened. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada recently issued a job posting for a forage researcher at its Beaverlodge research farm. It’s a term job — running until 2018 — but a step in the right […] Read more


Environmental Farm Plan being streamlined

Changes sparked by study comparing the plan to three international sustainable sourcing standards

The Alberta Environmental Farm Plan is being streamlined as part of a process to better align the program with international sustainable sourcing standards for environmental practices. These improvements emerged from a recent comparative study conducted by Alberta EFP, Alberta Wheat Commission and Alberta Barley. The study compared the plan to three international sustainable sourcing standards — […] Read more

Soil health conference bringing in leading experts

Ten leading experts will present current information on concepts for improving soil health at the Western Canada Conference on Soil Health in Edmonton on Dec. 8-10. Among the speakers are Gabe Brown, Jill Clapperton, and Martin Entz. The topics include building healthier soils through grazing, cover crops, soil health assessment, and ecological farm management. The […] Read more