GFM Network News


Mark Cutts

Interest in soil health is growing, but testing still lags

It’s only a minority of producers who are soil sampling and that mystifies a provincial crop specialist

Reading Time: < 1 minute Some producers may be looking at soil health a little differently, but there are still not a lot of them taking soil samples, says a provincial crop specialist. “Soil sampling gives you an evaluation of the nutrient levels in your soil,” said Mark Cutts of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s Stettler office. “If you know that […] 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


Black Angus Cow with Calf

Good grazing management can get you through a drought

Having diverse life in and on the soil will help get your cattle through a drought year

Reading Time: 3 minutes When drought hits, you can blame Mother Nature — but management practices also come into play. “I don’t want to say that it doesn’t matter what happens with rain and that all drought is man made because of bad management,” said Vermont grazier Abe Collins. “That’s a very extreme position. Sometimes it doesn’t rain, and […] Read more

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 […] Read more