GFM Network News


The first year of a biostimulants study showed increased root development and plant vigour. But it’s not yet known what conditions are needed for the products to have an impact or what any payback might be, says Mike Gretzinger, research co-ordinator at Farming Smarter.

Marvel or foo-foo dust? No verdict yet on biostimulants

Many products purport to boost plant health and yield but objective evidence needed, says researcher

Reading Time: 3 minutes The jury is still out on biostimulants. “Hopefully in two or three years, we’ll have a better recommendation and strategy for these things, but right now, it feels like there are more questions than answers,” said Mike Gretzinger, research co-ordinator at Farming Smarter. The recent buzz around biostimulants — a variety of products that boost […] Read more

In-person events last year (such as WheatStalk, top left) were rare, and limited in attendee numbers. But this summer, things will be much more like the old days including at AgSmart (bottom) and on Farming Smarter field tours (top right).

Having a field day: Everyone’s excited about return of in-person learning

Remember when you’d leave home to attend events and get together with experts, friends and peers?

Reading Time: 5 minutes After a year of too many Zoom meetings to count, ag organizations across the province are gearing up for a summer of in-field learning. “I’m so excited — there’s only so many online meetings that you can stay engaged with,” said Jamie Puchinger, assistant manager of Farming Smarter. “I cannot wait to get back out […] Read more


Lethbridge college launches degree program

Reading Time: < 1 minute Lethbridge College will start offering a bachelor of agriculture science degree program this fall.  The degree program works in conjunction with the current agriculture sciences diploma program. Students in the two-year diploma program have a common first-year curriculum, before choosing to major in agriculture business, agronomy or animal science in their second year. Students may […] Read more

Opinion: Are the changes to ag research really being led by farmers?

Opinion: Are the changes to ag research really being led by farmers?

The changes being made will have a major impact, but the issue isn’t attracting much attention

Reading Time: 3 minutes In February of 2016, I experienced something I will never forget. I witnessed farmers and ranchers unite across the province in passionate protest against the newly introduced Bill 6, the occupational health and safety legislation. We saw France-style farmer protests including tractor demonstrations and big crowds of angry folks. It reminded me of images I’ve […] Read more


Farming Smarter’s field day in early July had an unusual aspect — attendees — who heard from several speakers, including researcher Lewis Baarda.

Forget the silver bullet, bring out the arsenal against kochia

Study using multiple methods to control one of the most dangerous weeds on the Prairies

Reading Time: 4 minutes If it’s a one-on-one battle, put your money on kochia. The pernicious weed is not only a prolific seed producer, thrives in harsh conditions, and spreads its progeny far and wide, it’s also a master when it comes to developing resistance to herbicides. So producers are urged to use a variety of ‘best management practices’ […] Read more

Research co-ordinator Mike Gretzinger stands with some biostimulant products during Farming Smarter’s field day in July.

Alberta researchers delve into mysterious world of biostimulants

Three-year study aims to see if these products work on wheat, peas, and canola under Alberta conditions

Reading Time: 2 minutes There are a lot of products that growers can put on their crops, but do they really work? That can be a difficult question at the best of times but it’s especially challenging in the rapidly expanding but little understood world of biostimulants. The term has been around for many years but the closest thing […] Read more


This device, developed by Manitoba Agriculture, compares run-off (collected in the top row of jars) to water that seeps through soil. Management practices can significantly increase the ability of soil to absorb water — but water retention, organic matter, aggregation, soil structure compaction and nutrient cycling are all interconnected, says Farming Smarter researcher Gurbir Dhillon.

Soil health is a whole meal deal, says researcher

The properties of healthy soils are interlinked and good management addresses all of them, says Gurbir Dhillon

Reading Time: 2 minutes Your soil is a little like a supply chain — an interconnected series of chemical, physical, and biological interactions that help make your lands productive and your crops profitable. But just one weak link in that chain can cause problems on your farm. “Soil is irreplaceable, so it has to be sustainable,” said Gurbir Dhillon, […] Read more

The test plot on the left was sprayed with Carfentrazone at noon, while the side on the right was sprayed at dawn.

Research you can use on your farm this summer

Here are three examples of research that can save time, money, and headaches

Reading Time: 6 minutes Agriculture research can offer as much as a tenfold return on investment — but it doesn’t do farmers a whole lot of good gathering dust on a shelf somewhere. “I think that’s something we actually fail at in our current delivery system of research and extension,” said Ken Coles, general manager of Alberta-based Farming Smarter. […] Read more


Better establishment and uniform staging helped this canola seeded by a precision planter on 12-inch rows (on an irrigated plot) achieve a much higher yield than its air-seeded cousin in a Farming Smarter small-plot study.

Precision planting produces results — but doesn’t come cheap

Small-plot study finds 15 per cent yield bump, but cost and fertilization are issues with precision planter

Reading Time: 5 minutes New research shows that tightening up row spacing when seeding canola with precision planters can make a big yield difference — up to 15 per cent more, in fact — compared to conventional air drills. That’s a key finding from a four-year small-plot study by Farming Smarter researchers after adjusting a precision vacuum planter to […] Read more

Lethbridge College and Farming Smarter form partnership

Reading Time: < 1 minute Farming Smarter and Lethbridge College have signed a 15-year memorandum of understanding that they say will “transform agriculture research in southern Alberta.” “Our two organizations have worked together in the past on innovative and important projects that support agricultural research, education and student success,” Lethbridge College president Paula Burns said in a news release. “We […] Read more