GFM Network News


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


Surface soil moisture is good this year

While some parts of northern Alberta have had too much rain, more than 85 per cent of the province had a surface soil moisture rating of good or excellent at the start of June, according to a provincial crop report. “A late-spring snowmelt and ample moisture during the growing season has resulted in near- or […] Read more

Soil moisture a mixed bag in 2020

Soil moisture reserves remain extremely variable across the province, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry said in its latest update. These range “from one in 12- to 25-year lows through small areas in the central and northeast regions, to one in 50-year highs through the Fox Creek/Edson area and also around Hawk Hills in the northern Peace […] Read more


Many areas in the southern half of Alberta have seen low to extremely low precipitation over the past two years.

Farm season well set up if there’s a normal spring

A warm, dry spring should allow most areas to get off to a good start, says provincial forecast

It will — as usual — all depend on Mother Nature’s mood over the next couple of months, but much of Alberta is in a “desirable condition” when it comes to soil moisture reserves, says the latest provincial soil moisture update. “The greatest reserves are found throughout much of the southern Peace region and along […] 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

John Guelly tweeted this photo during this year’s harvest with the warning: “When ur out swathing, spraying or harvesting, keep an eye out 4 patches that look brown & dead like this.” Although clubroot wasn’t the cause in this case, taking a proactive approach is critical to managing the disease, which is continuing its relentless march across the province.

The Year That Was: Clubroot continued its deadly march in 2019

The disease didn't make the headlines in 2019 but its assault on Alberta continued

The rapid spread of clubroot in the last decade will continue in the coming one if canola growers don’t start to get ahead of the disease. “The resistance is being overcome already, and some of those cases are pretty significant and serious infestations,” said Dan Orchard, agronomy specialist with the Canola Council of Canada. “In […] Read more


More than 625 square kilometres of agricultural land in Alberta were lost to residential or industrial uses between 2000 and 2012, according to the Alberta Land Institute. A new organization, the Alberta Farmland Trust, has been created to give landowners a way to keep good land in production.

New farmland trust aims to preserve good soil

Tax treatment key to saving cropland

[UPDATED: Nov. 26, 2019] A new and innovative effort to save prime Alberta cropland from being turned into another suburb or industrial site is close to becoming a reality. Grain farmer Kim Good and lawyer-rancher Stan Carscallen say the Alberta Farmland Trust should be a registered charity by early in the coming year. And they’re […] Read more

By making the right choices, Canada is readily positioned to be the breadbasket of the world.

There is a Canadian advantage when it comes to producing food

Clean air and water and productive soils give us an edge — but they must be used wisely

I was visiting my friends who are new to Canada on a rainy autumn afternoon. As often happens when we get together, the discussion weaves its way toward food and in particular the nutrient richness in Canadian food. “It is the soil, the air and the water that make such a difference,” my friend said. […] Read more