GFM Network News


The Coen family has strategically placed ditches that were excavated to create swales for capturing snowmelt, that either slowly soaks into the land or is captured in a series of small dams.

Innovative farmers ‘harvest’ water to boost production

Coen Farm created shallow ditches called swales to capture millions of gallons of snowmelt each spring

This winter, you might want to harvest something a little different on your farm — water. “Our farm harvests 40 years of water in two weeks just from snowmelt,” said Takota Coen, who farms near Ferintosh with his parents. “We live in one of the only places in the world where you can actually increase […] Read more

“This kind of growth and recognition can only occur with community leadership. Right out of the gate in Alberta, the program was championed and embraced by various counties.” – Bryan Gilvesy

Program that rewards stewards of the land is taking off in Alberta

More than 100 Alberta farmers have signed up for ALUS, and that number is expected to grow rapidly

The movement to pay farmers for being good stewards of the land is gathering steam, with 10 counties in Alberta now having a local ALUS program. ALUS — short for Alternative Land Use Services and pronounced ‘Alice’ — is expanding across Canada and recently became a national, registered not-for-profit. “This kind of growth and recognition […] Read more


Luke Wonneck, agroforestry technician with the Alberta Woodlot and Extension Society, describes the newly created eco-buffer at the Edmonton Corn Maze in Parkland County.

Want to keep pollinators and beneficial species on your land? Build an eco-buffer

Edmonton Corn Maze is showcasing an eco-buffer — a community 
of trees and plants that provide a host of benefits for farms

If you build an eco-buffer, beneficial species will come. An eco-buffer is a planned community of trees, plants, and herbaceous species that provide pollinator and wildlife habitat, shelter for livestock, nutrient cycling, and groundwater recharge. A newly created eco-buffer, designed as part of an ALUS (Alternative Land Use Services) project, will soon demonstrate its value […] Read more

Canola Council of Canada agronomist Greg Sekulic is a member of the new habitat conservation group that is working to research and spread the message about habitat conservation.

New working group gears up to get answers about habitat conservation

Maintaining habitat is also important for pollinators and parasitoids that prey on crop pests

When you cut down your shelterbelt or take out a windrow, you might not think about the effect it has on the beneficial species living on your farmland. A new working group, unofficially known as the Habitat Working Group, is gearing up to inform producers about the changes they can make to conserve habitat for […] Read more


You don’t have to limit yourself to straight lines when planting a shelterbelt, and multiple species are recommended.

Planning is key to preparing an effective shelterbelt

Specialist recommends visiting mature shelterbelts and talking to landowners

Trees and shelterbelt planting is a long-term investment that requires careful planning and design. “Ask yourself what you want to accomplish by planting trees or shelterbelts on your property,” said Toso Bozic, a provincial agroforestry/bioenergy specialist. Trees should always be managed with future generations in mind, he said. “The goals can be many — ranging […] Read more

Using barley as a cover crop provided a fantastic jump start.

Rotation grazing and an amazing transformation

The one-wire fences, cover crops, and intensive grazing raised 
some eyebrows — as did 500 fast-gaining head on 600 acres

The ranch we were starting from scratch had a stunning mountain view west of Grande Prairie. But except for a small lovely piece of native prairie, this was land mined hard for grain crops. A relentless wind meant drift from the sprayer had hardened the shelterbelts to a few old stalks of saskatoon bushes. Our […] Read more