GFM Network News


Harvesting hybrid fall rye at Harvest Moon Farm with a strip header on the combine. Residue management is a critical practice on the Hilda-area farm.

Improving soil is a long process involving lots of trial and error

Soil health principles are well known but putting them into practice takes time and patience

Everyone is in favour of improving soil health and there are a lot of recommended practices for doing that. But it’s when the rubber meets the road that things get complicated — and change takes time and patience. That was a major theme of Alberta producer Andy Kirschenman’s virtual presentation at the recent Farm Forum […] Read more

Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show looks to lock in land base

GFM plans to buy research land for eastern Discovery Farm

As Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show goes digital this week, its operator is preparing to secure its real-world footprint in southern Ontario and put that real estate to year-round work. Glacier FarmMedia and the Ontario government on Tuesday announced their intent to work toward a land deal with the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario (ARIO), which […] Read more


Agronomist Matt Gosling is a big-time advocate of soil testing but doing it right isn’t as straightforward as you might think.

Soil testing should be a cornerstone of your farm, says agronomist

Develop management zones, consider mobile nutrients, and don’t neglect phosphorus, says Matt Gosling

When you talk to Matt Gosling about soil — even if it’s over the phone — you can picture his eyes getting wider as his voice becomes more animated. He considers soil the cornerstone of crop agriculture: A living organism that is constantly shifting, changing and moving. By that logic, then, soil testing must be […] Read more

There are many attributes of healthy soils — and many definitions of what healthy soil is. But producers can cut through the confusion by keeping in mind five principles.

Everyone wants healthy soil… even if they can’t define it

Different farms have different needs, but all fall under the five principles for improving soil health

Soil health has been defined as “the continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living system, within ecosystem and land-use boundaries, to sustain biological productivity, maintain the quality of air and water environments, and promote plant, animal, and human health.” The challenge with this poetic definition is that, while it does describe the functional abilities […] Read more


This device, developed by Manitoba Agriculture, compares run-off (collected in the top row of jars) to water that seeps through soil. Management practices can significantly increase the ability of soil to absorb water — but water retention, organic matter, aggregation, soil structure compaction and nutrient cycling are all interconnected, says Farming Smarter researcher Gurbir Dhillon.

Soil health is a whole meal deal, says researcher

The properties of healthy soils are interlinked and good management addresses all of them, says Gurbir Dhillon

Your soil is a little like a supply chain — an interconnected series of chemical, physical, and biological interactions that help make your lands productive and your crops profitable. But just one weak link in that chain can cause problems on your farm. “Soil is irreplaceable, so it has to be sustainable,” said Gurbir Dhillon, […] Read more

‘Report card’ aims to raise awareness of soil health

Handing out marks on topics such as organic matter and cover cropping is meant to raise awareness


Farmers in Western Canada received good marks for increasing organic matter in their soil but a grade of D when it comes to cover cropping. The Soil Conservation Council of Canada released its first national soil health report card this spring — the first attempt to evaluate the state of Canada’s soil since the 1980s. The grades […] Read more


Pivots that used to sink into the soil on Brendon Rockey’s farm was one of the signs that something was wrong with the soil structure, 
the Colorado potato grower told attendees at the Western Canada Conference on Soil Health & Grazing.

Cooking up a successful recipe for improved soil health

Brendon Rockey’s farm is far different than most, but his winning formula has lessons for other growers

In some ways, soil health conferences are like recipe swaps — with attendees always on the lookout for a mix of ingredients that will produce better results. One of those recipes presented at the sold-out Western Canada Conference on Soil Health & Grazing last month came from a Colorado potato grower who farms in high-elevation, near-desert conditions and no […] Read more

Your roots, my roots and your urban neighbours’ roots are firmly grounded in soil. Our future is under our feet.

Preserving highly productive soil is critical for tomorrow

In my hometown, across the province and around the world, top-quality soil is being lost to development

My hometown is Stony Plain. It is a great town, progressive, beautiful and welcoming: A place that honours the past and has no fear of the future. I love to go back to visit with my family and friends. I can stand in one spot for hours and simply talk to folks as they pass […] Read more


Willing to share a little dirt? Samples wanted

Farming Smarter needs 10 more farms in southern Alberta willing to share a little dirt for the Alberta Soil Health Benchmark Monitoring Project. The project will document soil health indicators at 200 locations in Alberta. Twenty fields were sampled in early summer and another 20 will be sampled this fall. The fields will be re-sampled […] 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

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