GFM Network News


New dean of agriculture named for U of S

Soil science prof Angela Bedard-Haughn takes over Aug. 15

One of Western Canada’s major post-secondary ag institutions will get a new hand at the wheel this summer. The University of Saskatchewan announced Wednesday it has named soil science professor Angela Bedard-Haughn as the dean for its College of Agriculture and Bioresources for a five-year term starting Aug. 15. Raised on a family farm in […] Read more

Burying a pair of cotton shorts in the soil is one way that soil enthusiasts can raise awareness about soil health.

Underwear campaign fun with a serious purpose

The goal is to promote awareness that soils are living, breathing entities — and need protection

Reading Time: 2 minutes It seems like just a fun, even silly, thing to do — bury a pair of underwear made of white cotton, and then dig them up a couple of months later to see what soil microbes have done to them. But the Soil Your Undies campaign has a very serious purpose: To show people that […] Read more


The soil monoliths collection is now on display on the third floor of the Cousins Building at Lethbridge College.

This is some pretty special dirt

The unique collection of intact soil cross-sections is both a piece of history and a ‘priceless’ educational tool

Reading Time: 3 minutes A decades-old collection of ‘soil monoliths’ donated to Lethbridge College will be an invaluable tool for teaching students about soil. The 110 monoliths are vertical cross-sections about one metre long that show soil from a variety of regions in its natural state. Long been housed at Agriculture Canada’s Lethbridge research centre, the soil monoliths have […] Read more

“Tillage, like smoking, is a terminal bad habit. The more we do, the worse the outcome,” says Don Lobb, a longtime leader in the no-till and soil health movements.

Canada’s soil is in crisis — and change is needed, says advocate

Agronomy has ‘masked’ soil degradation, but the crunch is coming

Reading Time: 4 minutes The biggest crisis facing Canadian agriculture is right beneath our feet. “For the first time in history, we have the technology and tools to produce food in a sustainable way, yet farmers and their influencers cling to old ways and values,” said Don Lobb, an Ontario farmer and a longtime leader in the no-till and […] Read more


Greg Paranich of Performance Seeds in Blackfalds describes some of the advantages of cover crops.

Clearwater County aims to cook up successful cover crop recipes

Cover crops offer many benefits but what’s the right mix of grasses, brassicas, and legumes?

Reading Time: 3 minutes Clearwater County has started experimenting with cover crops, and outlined some of their benefits during its recent West County Ag Tour. “It’s a great year to talk about cover crops because in order to maintain our moisture in the soil, we are going to need organic matter, which cover crops build. We are going to […] Read more

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


There are many ways to view — and treat — soil

Healthy soil is a precious resource and we need to think more about that as we plan for our future

Reading Time: 3 minutes It is hard to imagine there is so little soil when we stand and look out at our vast landscapes where the ground lays in wait for the warmth of spring and the touch of the farmer’s hand. The shrinking global land base that is arable seems a country mile away and another farmer’s problem. […] Read more

Understanding how plants search out nutrients, and react to weeds and pests could have a huge impact on farming in the coming decades, says biologist JC Cahill.

Listen to your crops — the plants are talking to each other

They’re also ‘foraging’ for nutrients, deciding where to put their roots, and calling for help when under attack

Reading Time: 3 minutes You might think it’s crazy — but plants talk to each other and act in ways that are similar to animals and humans. “Step away from the idea of plants as factories and start to think of plants as individuals,” biological sciences professor JC Cahill told attendees at the Western Canadian Soil Health and Grazing […] Read more


Ross McKenzie heard a lot of micronutrient claims during his lengthy career as a provincial agronomist and researcher, but the vast majority couldn’t be substantiated.

Proceed with caution when it comes to micronutrients, says agronomist

It’s not hard to spend thousands of dollars on micronutrients that aren’t needed or produce little benefit, 
says Ross McKenzie

Reading Time: 3 minutes Farmers need to put on their critical thinking caps when dealing with micronutrient claims — or risk spending lots of money for no or marginal results. There is a lot of hype surrounding supplemental micronutrients right now, said Ross McKenzie, a retired agronomy research scientist. However, not all micronutrients are created equally; some of the […] Read more

There’s no comparison — grasslands store much more carbon can cropped land, especially when properly grazed.

There are (giga) tonnes of benefits from properly grazed grasslands

Light to moderate grazing can enhance soil carbon levels by as much as 40 per cent — 
if the land is managed properly

Reading Time: 3 minutes Even with no-till, grain farming depletes soil carbon levels, says a University of Alberta researcher. “If you increase crop production above ground, you decrease carbon production below ground,” said Barry Irving, manager of the university’s ag research stations. “When you take production from below ground and move it above ground, that’s great for agriculture — […] Read more