GFM Network News

Things can look great from a distance but to know if your grasslands and pastures are living up to their potential, you need to walk the land and look at species type and abundance, vegetation layers, amount of litter, and presence of invasive species.

Eyeball your way to range health

Keep an eye out for these five things to see if your rangeland is living up to its potential

Reading Time: 4 minutes The most important tools you have to assess the health of your rangeland are your own two eyes. “What a range health assessment does is provides a measure of how well rangelands are performing key functions,” said Ross Adams, range management specialist with Alberta Environment and Parks. “It would be difficult and expensive to go […] Read more

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Four ways to increase your organic matter

A question that I hear a lot is, “How do cover crops fit into a grain operation?” Lots of grain farmers have no desire to get into the livestock business and no interest in producing hay. But many have some soil issues that need to be addressed. This can be done by buying more iron[...]
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This mite, less than 10 millimetres long, is an example of the mesofauna found in soil.

Say hello to the creatures that live in your soil

There are just four basic types of soil organisms, but the 
diversity and sheer numbers of them are breathtakingly large

Reading Time: 3 minutes When you’re standing on your land, you’re atop an ecosystem with a diversity rivalling that of a coral reef. “Soil organisms are abundant and varied — you can find anywhere from 100 to 100,000 individuals in a single square metre of soil,” soil ecologist Jeff Battigelli told attendees at the recent Western Canada Soil Health[...]
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What happens above changes the world below

Tilling, spraying, fertilizing, and even grazing can have big impacts on the microbial world

Reading Time: 2 minutes Many conventional agricultural practices generate a homogenous soil habitat — and that’s not a good thing, says soil ecologist Jeff Battigelli. “Basically, you just keep knocking things down. It’s not allowed to get very complex; there is a simplified community structure, with very few species,” said Battigelli. Homogenous soils need constant human intervention and resources[...]
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Plowed soil in a field.

We need to dig deep and better understand our soils

Healthy soil is our greatest asset, and farm practices focused 
on just the short term undermine our competitive advantage

Reading Time: 3 minutes I believe that at some point in history, we will fully appreciate and understand that healthy soil is our greatest competitive advantage and the most valuable asset on Earth. As agriculture is the foundation of all civilization, we cannot ignore the evolution of food production. We have gone from gathering food to industrialized agriculture and[...]
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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[...]
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two men studying soil

Soil carbon challenge coming to Alberta

The Soil Carbon Coalition Challenge is a North American-wide 
initiative founded on the premise that carbon is key to soil health

Reading Time: 3 minutes Measuring your soil carbon is the ticket to improving soil health and can usher in dramatic productivity gains. That’s the message that Peter Donovan is bringing to Alberta this month — part of the American expert’s efforts to promote the Soil Carbon Coalition Challenge, a North American-wide initiative to show how you can improve your[...]
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soil being turned by hand

Soil Carbon Challenge tour coming soon

Competition aims to see how fast land managers can turn atmospheric carbon into soil

Reading Time: < 1 minute Peter Donovan’s Soil Carbon Challenge tour is coming to Alberta. The former rancher from Oregon will be touring in his school bus and visiting six locations to conduct soil carbon workshops. Donovan establishes baseline measurements for soil carbon in dedicated plots in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico for the challenge described as “a competition to[...]
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man standing amongst a crop

Cover crops and soil health guru winning converts in Alberta

Gabe Brown’s methods of using a ‘cocktail’ of cover crops to rebuild soil, 
lower input costs and boost yields are attracting serious attention

Reading Time: 4 minutes Like many farmers, Gabe Brown hates the term “sustainable agriculture.” But his beef is that it doesn’t go far enough. “For us to have the resources that will be truly sustainable for future generations, we have to regenerate our degraded soil,” said the North Dakota rancher and farmer, an internationally renowned speaker who has toured[...]
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