GFM Network News


Rance: Sustainability isn’t a burden, but an opportunity

It didn’t take long for a young cattle rancher from Saskatchewan to capture the audience’s attention at the recent Canada 2020 National Forum on Agri-Food in Ottawa. “For me, the word ‘sustainability’ is synonymous with McDonald’s,” said Adrienne Ivey, who is part of a family corporation managing 3,000 beef cattle on a 10,000-acre spread near […] Read more



Soil scientist David Lobb has criss-crossed the country to talk about soil health, but the issue isn’t getting nearly the attention it deserves, says the University of Manitoba professor.

Soil degradation the forgotten issue

Reducing tillage and summerfallow hasn’t fixed a problem that is costing farmers billions every year

Soil degradation in Canada is causing a huge economic loss — but few people are paying attention. That includes farmers, even though degraded soil is significantly reducing their yields, according to University of Manitoba soil scientist David Lobb. “Soil erosion accounts for a loss of about 10 per cent,” he said. “Farmers are only getting […] Read more

A good rule of thumb is to look for yields that are six to eight per cent above the check variety in cereals and more than 12 to 15 per cent in oilseeds, says crop specialist Harry Brook.

Crop expert offers tips for a successful hunt for new varieties

Yield gets all the attention but bigger may not be better when it comes to your farm

New crop varieties and variety tables are now available, so how do you pick ones best suited to your land? The first step is to analyze all the information in the variety tables, said provincial crop specialist Harry Brook. “The tables are structured with yield potential as the main criteria,” said Brook. “It takes into […] Read more


A variety of crop types can add to the health of your soil.

Make a difference with good crop rotation

Benefits include lower disease control and fertilizer costs

One of the best tools to improve the bottom line, reduce future grief, and lower the risks of pests, disease and weeds is by using a diverse crop rotation. “A good crop rotation is one where there is an adequate variety of crops grown so that any one type of crop is grown only once […] 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


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?

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



Nancy Hewlett takes less than 10 minutes to move her chicken pens every day.

Permaculture operation provides food for thought

Couple raised on conventional farms took a very different path when they started their livestock operation

Nancy and Chad Hewlett wanted to do things a little differently when they decided to start farming four years ago. So they moved away from the conventional farming of their childhoods and took a more holistic approach instead. “Shifting to permaculture was a huge learning curve. Some days, it feels like I’m starting all over […] Read more

Graphic from a 2010 AAFC publication by the Indian Head Shelterbelt Centre, showing how a shelterbelt can reduce wind speed for over 100 metres.

Farming every acre doesn’t pay when the wind is howling

Producers are being urged to ‘rethink’ shelterbelts and how they preserve moisture and protect soil

Alberta farmers are being urged to “rethink” shelterbelts — and soil conservation experts agree. Zero till hasn’t made shelterbelts obsolete and this year’s dry conditions have shown the value of having something to disrupt the flow of hot winds blowing over fields, said Toso Bozic, Alberta Agriculture’s agro-forestry specialist. “Planting new windbreaks needs to be […] Read more