GFM Network News


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Willing to share a little dirt? Samples wanted

Farming Smarter needs 10 more farms in southern Alberta willing to share a little dirt for the Alberta Soil Health Benchmark Monitoring Project. The project will document soil health indicators at 200 locations in Alberta. Twenty fields were sampled in early summer and another 20 will be sampled this fall. The fields will be re-sampled […] Read more

Farming Smarter deep banded immobile nutrients at a depth of six inches using a seed drill with a basic stealth opener system.

Does deep banding work? New research aims to find out

The practice could make immobile nutrients more available for three major crops

The jury is still out on whether deep banding fertilizer is worth the time and money — but researchers across Alberta are hoping to settle the debate once and for all. “I don’t think there’s any proof yet that deep banding works,” said Ken Coles, general manager of Farming Smarter. “We want to have some […] Read more


The equipment was small (and old, in the case of the combine) but the goal of the Hands-Free Hectare project was to prove you could grow a crop without ever setting foot in the field.

The automated future has arrived, says robotic farming expert

British researcher showcases the ‘Hands-Free Hectare’ project at Farming Smarter conference

Farming using only robots may sound like something out of the year 2050 — but the producers of a barley crop in the United Kingdom argue it’s here now. Researchers at Harper Adams University in Shropshire, England, along with a U.K. precision ag company successfully grew a crop using only automated machines as their farmhands. […] Read more

Two members of the Farming Smarter research team collect seed samples for a field-scale trial.

Doing your own research? Then keep it simple

You can collect lots of data but much of it may be of no use — or worse, it might lead you down the wrong path

There’s a big world of information out there today, more so than ever before. When it comes to precision ag, universities, applied research institutions, governments, and companies all have their own research recommending everything from the best VRT settings to the right seed depth in specific soil profiles. And all those reams and reams of […] Read more