GFM Network News


Soil electrical conductivity data can reveal a lot about a field, says Lewis Baarda, seen here placing an instrument called an EM38 in a sled prior to field mapping.

Could soil electrical conductivity maps give productivity a little jolt?

This easy-to-obtain data could be a way to use fertilizer and irrigation more effectively

Reading Time: 4 minutes You might get a charge out of this — measuring the ability of soil to conduct electricity, turning that info into field maps of moisture, and then using that info to fertilize or irrigate more effectively. Soil electrical conductivity is something that may already be measured on your farm. “Often if farmers are getting their […] 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

Reading Time: 4 minutes 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


Soil testing will give you a plan for getting the biggest bang for your fertilizer buck, says provincial research scientist Doon Pauly. 

How much fertilizer do you need to apply?

Agronomy research scientist offers his tips for planning your applications this spring


Reading Time: 2 minutes Soil tests are still the best way to determine your fertilizer requirements for spring. “We can determine where we’re starting from as far as the nitrate that is present in the soil and what’s there for the plant at the start of the year,” said agronomy research scientist Doon Pauly. “Phosphorus, potassium, and salinity don’t […] Read more

There are a variety of soil sampling methods. Core or tube sampling is recommended as augurs and corkscrew devices tend to mix soils 
from different depths.

Here’s how to take control of the soil sampling process

Much can go wrong when soil sampling — here are the key things to keep in mind when getting the dirt on nutrients levels

Reading Time: 5 minutes Soil testing has long been a recommended practice before applying nutrients, and variable-rate fertilizing has made it more essential than ever. But the difficulty with soil testing is that so much can go wrong. Everything from how a sample is handled to the choice of a lab can impact results and recommendations. However, producers have […] 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

Global giant buys Alberta company

Reading Time: < 1 minute Global seed-testing company SGS has purchased BioVision Seed Research of Sherwood Park. BioVision, which also has additional facilities in Winnipeg and Grande Prairie, is a leading seed, grain, and soil-testing laboratory in Western Canada. Founded in 1996 and privately owned, BioVision has 20 employees and revenues of more than $3.4 million. SGS is the world’s […] Read more


Five Q and As on soil testing

Five Q and As on soil testing

Here’s what you need to know to make sure your plants have all the right nutrients

Soil testing will help you give your crop the best possible start. Dr. Jeff Schoenau, soil fertility expert at the University of Saskatchewan, delivered a free webinar on soil earlier this winter. Schoenau had answers to five common questions about soil testing and fertility.

Though there are several ways to test soil, the most common is the zero- to six-inch representative sample.

Choosing the best procedures for soil testing

An Alberta Agriculture and Forestry specialist outlines the basics of the important annual procedure

Reading Time: 3 minutes There are ways to maximize your investment in soil testing, says Harry Brook, crop specialist at Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “Most producers test their soils routinely every fall, after harvest or early in the spring. Information from these tests gives you the knowledge to plan the following crop’s fertilizer plan,” he says. Though there are[...]
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man standing beside tractor

Skipping soil tests could cost you big time

You have to know how to interpret it, but not soil sampling and using 'the usual retail blends' can be a costly mistake

Reading Time: 5 minutes Not very many hands go up when Mark Cutts asks a room full of producers how many of them test their soil every year. “I don’t think the majority is doing soil testing,” said the crop specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. “If a producer is happy with his yields and he’s not soil[...]
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