GFM Network News


Cover crops can get cattle back onto cropland — where they belong, according to one soil health specialist.

Cover crops ‘essential’ to in-field grazing

Producers need to more closely mimic nature to avoid long-term soil health issues, says USDA conservationist

Got cows? On your cropland? Jay Fuhrer certainly hopes so. The soil health specialist believes cropland and large ruminants are a natural fit. He advocates turning animals out of the barn and onto the land whenever possible. “Soils, plants, and animals evolved together,” he said at the recent Dairy Farmers of Manitoba conference. “And we […] Read more

Dishing the dirt on soil health a big draw

It will be a packed conference hall when soil health experts gather in Edmonton in December

Soil health continues to be a hot draw — at least for a portion of Alberta’s farm community. This year’s edition of the Western Canadian Soil Health and Grazing Conference looks certain to sell out all 500 attendee spots — repeating the feat accomplished when the inaugural edition was held two years ago. “Soil health […] Read more


If you had low yields, you may be able to cut back a bit on fertilizer for 2018, but only a soil test will tell you for sure.

Balance your soil nutrient budget this fall through soil testing

Nitrogen prices have reached lows not seen in over a decade

Your soil keeps a budget for nutrients, and how much you will need next year depends on how much you took out this year. “Most of the time when it comes to assessing what soil nutrient levels might be like, typically what you can do is look at your yields,” said provincial crop specialist Mark […] Read more

The trade deal with Europe could be worth $600 million annually for the Canadian beef industry, but so far producers aren’t enrolling in a program that would give them access to this premium market. 

The door to Europe isn’t quite open yet

The EU trade deal is now a go, but ‘very few producers’ have signed up for a program that makes their cattle eligible

The European Union has the potential to be a big marketplace for Canadian beef producers, but it’s going to take some effort to get them here. “We are concerned that to date very few producers are enrolling their cattle in the EU program,” the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association said in a recent edition of its e-newsletter. […] Read more


Besides reducing soil compaction, CTF can help improve fuel efficiency and lessen soil degradation.

Controlled traffic farming can have a positive impact on soils

The practice of always running equipment on the same ‘tramlines’ is rare in Alberta, 
but study says it pays major dividends


Controlled traffic farming does improve soil, says a University of Alberta soil researcher who did his master’s thesis on the practice. “In our area of the North American Great Plains, we have areas that are experiencing soil degradation and it is being propagated further as production systems are intensifying,” said Kris Guenette at the recent […] Read more

Taking a bit of time to create a grazing plan will pay good dividends for years, says rangeland specialist Pete Deal 
(centre in cowboy hat).

It pays to have a plan before turning your cattle out on pasture

Bountiful, nutritious forage doesn’t happen by accident — 
here’s how to plan for success on your ranch

A grazing plan might save you more than you think. Whether it’s a simple or detailed plan, a few key components will not only save your grass, but maybe save you a few dollars in the long run. Adjusting your stocking rate will allow you to get good-quality forage and vigorous regrowth. “Managing the amount […] Read more


Keeping land in grass has a side benefit

Young beef producers need affordable access to grassland 
if the industry is going to grow

The beef industry has been struggling to retain and attract new producers while the average age of farmers, at 54, keeps creeping up. The next generation of cattle producers might be looking for something different. The Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB) released the National Beef Sustainability Assessment and Strategy this fall. The industry garnered […] Read more

The 42,000 acres of short-grass prairie at Onefour Ranch is home to at least 23 federally listed species at risk, including the mountain plover (inset).

Historic research ranches won’t be riding off into the sunset

The future of Onefour and Stavely ranches has been secured by the province and the University of Alberta

Decades of grassland research in southern Alberta will be preserved thanks to a deal between the province and the University of Alberta. The agreement will ensure rangeland studies continue at the historic research ranches of Stavely and Onefour. In 2013, the future of both sites was thrown up in the air when the federal government […] Read more


Employing the natural ability of crops to defend themselves is the logical next step in the movement that has brought no-till and soil health to the fore, says Alberta producer Andy Kirschenman.

Plants’ secret chemistry could change the way you farm

Science is discovering plants produce their own pesticides and warn each other of threats — but tillage, spraying, and even breeding can disrupt these defences

A war is being waged in your fields. Every day, your crops are fighting for their lives against insects, diseases, weeds, and weather. And their best line of defence isn’t the chemicals we spray or the traits we breed into them. It’s their sense of smell. “Anything that anybody has ever done to any plant […] Read more

Chinook Applied Research Association has launched a soil health lab to evaluate and improve soil health, said soil health specialist Yamily Zavala at a Foothills Forage and Grazing Association forage tour in mid-October.

When it comes to healthy soil, you want to lump it

Soil aggregation is critical — in several different ways — to growing healthy crops

Think water is your biggest limiting factor when growing a crop? Think again. “Soil aggregation is the most important constraint that we have,” said Yamily Zavala, crop and soil health management specialist at Chinook Applied Research Association. “In order for a soil to function properly, we have to have all the soil processes — physical, […] Read more