GFM Network News


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

Producers can create resilience in their operations by building healthier soils, says soil health expert Nicole Masters.

Healthy soil can boost your bottom line

Soil carbon is a bit like a credit card for your plants, says New Zealand soil expert

Reading Time: 3 minutes The Canadian government says six tonnes a hectare is an acceptable level of soil loss each year. Well, that’s not acceptable to soil health expert Nicole Masters. “Soil is our greatest export,” said Masters, director of Integrity Soils in New Zealand. “We took out a lot of our soil resources when agriculture really intensified. You […] Read more


Stick to deep banding — not shallow banding — when applying nitrogen

In order to reduce nitrogen losses, producers need to deep band their fertilizer, use enhanced-efficiency products, and follow the 4R nutrient stewardship principles

Reading Time: 3 minutes When it comes to getting maximum yields, nitrogen is still king. “Nitrogen is the most important nutrient when it comes to providing yield responses,” said agronomist Rigas Karamanos. In a study conducted in 2000 that looked at how barley yields responded to various nutrients, nitrogen increased yields by almost 60 bushels per acre — over […] Read more

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 […] 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