GFM Network News


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

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

Humble earthworms are a benefit to your soil

Earthworm activity can make your soil a better place

If you want to make your soil better, you need to start with earthworms. Healthy soils have strong earthworm populations and you can gauge their numbers by the presence of middens, little piles of residue, says Quebec researcher Odette Menard. “When I see a lot of middens, I know it’s a healthy field. If I […] Read more


Soil health conference bringing in leading experts

Ten leading experts will present current information on concepts for improving soil health at the Western Canada Conference on Soil Health in Edmonton on Dec. 8-10. Among the speakers are Gabe Brown, Jill Clapperton, and Martin Entz. The topics include building healthier soils through grazing, cover crops, soil health assessment, and ecological farm management. The […] Read more



Renowned soil scientist Jill Clapperton climbs into a pit to show some features of soil, during a hands-on workshop on soil health.

Soil scientist offers recipe for better soil health

More earthworm slime and protozoa excretions? You betcha!

You can’t control Mother Nature, but you can have some control over the health of your soil. At a recent workshop, soil scientist Jill Clapperton outlined some visible indicators of soil health, and described a few things producers could do to improve their soil. “If you have healthy plants, you have an excellent indicator that […] Read more

Farmer-led research groups shine spotlight on soil health

Improving soil is the key to successful farming, say groups 
behind the Soil Health Applied Research Alliance

Declaring ‘soil is bigger than oil,’ two Alberta farmer-led research organizations are teaming up to increase the focus on soil health. “Soil health is the foundation of successful farming — if we can maintain and improve the health of our soils, we will be successful farmers,” said Ian Murray, an Acme rancher and chair of […] Read more


Peter Donovan (left) with Saskatchewan producer Ralph Corcoran, 
a participant in the Soil Carbon Coalition.

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


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 […] Read more

If your soil structure is poor and has low levels of micro-organisms, you won’t be getting the full bang for your fertilizer buck, says crop and nutrient management specialist Yamily Zavala.

Soil fertility is about more than nutrients

Expert says farmers need to learn more about the physical and biological structures of the soil

Many farmers tend to focus on the chemical composition of the soil, and ignore its other two key components — and that’s a mistake, says a crop and soil nutrient management specialist. “Farmers need to understand more about the physical and biological structures of the soil to manage their cropping systems,” said Yamily Zavala of […] Read more


Soil Carbon Challenge tour coming soon

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

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 […] Read more

The North Peace Applied Research Association’s annual field day in July attracted producers from all across the North Peace and others interested in seeing its cocktail cover crop trials.

Cover crops come with a long list of benefits

Restoring tired soils isn’t a quick process, but cover crop 
proponents say it’s well worth the effort

Are you looking to improve soil nitrogen? Prevent soil erosion? Reduce soil compaction, improve water infiltration, and even suppress weeds? Cover crops have got you covered. And as understanding of their benefits spreads, interest is growing. “I think producers are realizing the cost of inputs is getting very, very high and the soil has become […] Read more