GFM Network News


Soil scientist David Lobb has criss-crossed the country to talk about soil health, but the issue isn’t getting nearly the attention it deserves, says the University of Manitoba professor.

Soil degradation the forgotten issue

Reducing tillage and summerfallow hasn’t fixed a problem that is costing farmers billions every year

Soil degradation in Canada is causing a huge economic loss — but few people are paying attention. That includes farmers, even though degraded soil is significantly reducing their yields, according to University of Manitoba soil scientist David Lobb. “Soil erosion accounts for a loss of about 10 per cent,” he said. “Farmers are only getting […] Read more

A variety of crop types can add to the health of your soil.

Make a difference with good crop rotation

Benefits include lower disease control and fertilizer costs

One of the best tools to improve the bottom line, reduce future grief, and lower the risks of pests, disease and weeds is by using a diverse crop rotation. “A good crop rotation is one where there is an adequate variety of crops grown so that any one type of crop is grown only once […] Read more


Clubroot is scary enough but this Canola Council of Canada video on the life cycle of the disease ups the fear factor. Above, a still from the video (available at www.clubroot.ca) shows a zoospore, an amoeba-like creature released from a clubroot spore when it senses a host plant is nearby. The zoospore, powered by two whip-like flagella, can swim a short distance in water film in the soil towards a root hair. It then clamps on and penetrates the root hair and just like in the sci-fi horror classic “Alien,” begins to reproduce. 

A two-year break can prevent a clubroot horror show

Clubroot spores live for 20 years but new research says a 
surprising 99 per cent die in two years — if infestations are light

*[UPDATED: Dec. 28, 2018] Still growing a canola-wheat rotation? One more year between canola crops could make a huge difference when it comes to clubroot. “Recent research has shown that 95 to 99 per cent of spores die over a two-year break,” said Dan Orchard, agronomy specialist with the Canola Council of Canada. “We were […] Read more

Greg Paranich of Performance Seeds in Blackfalds describes some of the advantages of cover crops.

Clearwater County aims to cook up successful cover crop recipes

Cover crops offer many benefits but what’s the right mix of grasses, brassicas, and legumes?

Clearwater County has started experimenting with cover crops, and outlined some of their benefits during its recent West County Ag Tour. “It’s a great year to talk about cover crops because in order to maintain our moisture in the soil, we are going to need organic matter, which cover crops build. We are going to […] Read more


Mark Cutts.

Interest in soil health is growing, but testing still lags

It’s only a minority of producers who are soil sampling and that mystifies a provincial crop specialist

Some producers may be looking at soil health a little differently, but there are still not a lot of them taking soil samples, says a provincial crop specialist. “Soil sampling gives you an evaluation of the nutrient levels in your soil,” said Mark Cutts of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s Stettler office. “If you know that […] Read more

This is not a winter wonderland. Allison Ammeter and husband Mike will have to deal with these fababeans, pictured here on Nov. 20, in the spring.

ONE FOR THE BOOKS: Lessons learned, and a look ahead

‘Don’t wait for the perfect day’ is one of the key lessons from 2016, 
and sticking to rotations may be one for this year

Allison Ammeter didn’t see the inside of a combine in October. As harvest carried on across the province, Ammeter was left waiting and wondering when the rains would stop and whether she and husband Mike would finish harvest before the snow started flying. They didn’t. “We got not quite two-thirds done, which is fairly average […] Read more


Pea acres should easily shoot up by another 400,000 acres, 
says Alberta Pulse Growers’ Nevin Rosaasen.

No question about it — pulses are hot, hot, hot

Yellow pea and lentil seed haven’t been available for months, 
and some see pulse acres soaring by 20 per cent or more

Pulse acres are set to rise in 2016 — but the multimillion-dollar question is: How much? “Realistically, we could see a 20 to 25 per cent increase in acres just based on seed sales and the usage of inoculant,” said Mark Olson, pulse crops unit head at Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “We know from what […] Read more

Organic producers Steven Snider (l), Tim Hoven (middle), and Ward Middleton (r) spoke about creating an organic crop rotation at the Organic Alberta Conference in Olds.

One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to organic crop rotations

Three organic producers share their top tips for building a sustainable crop rotation — no matter what kind of operation you have

Organic crop rotations are “a real ball of wax to deal with,” says veteran organic grower Steven Snider. “There’s so many options out there. I think people would like for me to just tell them what to put in, and that would be nice and simple,” said Snider, who runs an organic grain operation near […] Read more


Ten-dollar canola is no longer a great price says Greg Sears, so that's why he and other producers are focusing on the management side of farming.

Business strategies for a down market

The bears are out, but here are some ways to manage through a time of tight margins and high risks

The grain market bears are out in full force, but while times are challenging, there are ways to manage through the latest downward cycle, say four Alberta farm leaders. “In 1980 — 35 years ago — I was selling spring wheat for $6 a bushel,” said Gary Stanford, president of the Grain Growers of Canada. […] Read more