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

Reading Time: 3 minutes 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

Dwayne Beck is a frequent visitor to Alberta and while he has seen some progress over the years, the soil health guru says the province’s farmers face a looming disaster if they don’t change their approach.

Stop fighting Mother Nature — because you’re going to lose

Most farmers in Alberta still love tractors more than biology and are heading for big trouble, says Dwayne Beck

Reading Time: 3 minutes Like a voice crying in the wilderness, Dwayne Beck has been beating the drum of soil defence as the foundation for a healthier farming system for decades. To some, the longtime research manager of the Dakota Lakes Research Farm is a wise prophet and caretaker. For others, his message is radical and uncomfortable — something […] 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

Reading Time: 4 minutes 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

The rich, deep colour of this soil indicates exactly what healthy 
soil looks like.

The road to better soil health comes from a change in attitude

Spend lots of time digging holes and looking at soil in your fields, says Quebec researcher

Reading Time: 3 minutes Improve your soil health and increased yields and other benefits will follow. But first you need to change your priorities. “How much time do you spend in a year taking care of your tractor?” agricultural engineer Odette Menard asked attendees at last month’s Western Canada Conference on Soil Health. “We spend more time taking care […] Read more


Humble earthworms are a benefit to your soil

Earthworm activity can make your soil a better place

Reading Time: 2 minutes If you want to make your soil better, you need to start with earthworms. Healthy soils have strong earthworm populations and you can gauge their numbers by the presence of middens, little piles of residue, says Quebec researcher Odette Menard. “When I see a lot of middens, I know it’s a healthy field. If I […] Read more


Manage crop residue with next year in mind

Reading Time: < 1 minute How you harvest, what you are using to harvest, and what you do with the residue will have a huge effect on what happens next spring. “Crop residue isn’t trash as it has a significant amount of fertilizer value,” said provincial crop specialist Harry Brook. “The straw has probably the lion’s share of this, as […] Read more