GFM Network News


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



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

Reading Time: 4 minutes 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

Reading Time: 2 minutes 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


“There are some new guys from the oilfields who are coming, and some of them have moved into farming,

Alberta’s organic heartland wants to bring more farmers on board

Two-year initiative will assist both existing growers and those wanting 
to transition to organic production

Reading Time: 2 minutes Being Alberta’s most northerly rural municipality isn’t Mackenzie County’s only claim to fame. “Right now, Mackenzie County has the highest number of organic farmers,” said Jacob Marfo, manager and research director of the Mackenzie Applied Research Association, (MARA). And the region may soon have more. MARA and Organic Alberta, with support from the county and […] 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


Cover crops can get cattle back onto cropland — where they belong, according to one soil health specialist.

Cover crops ‘essential’ to in-field grazing

Producers need to more closely mimic nature to avoid long-term soil health issues, says USDA conservationist

Reading Time: 2 minutes Got cows? On your cropland? Jay Fuhrer certainly hopes so. The soil health specialist believes cropland and large ruminants are a natural fit. He advocates turning animals out of the barn and onto the land whenever possible. “Soils, plants, and animals evolved together,” he said at the recent Dairy Farmers of Manitoba conference. “And we […] 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


Tillage can effect your carbon payments

Tillage can effect your carbon payments

Reading Time: < 1 minute Tillage is expected to increase this year as producers deal with ruts caused by wet weather or installation of fire breaks. But that can have implications for producers involved in the Alberta Carbon Offset Program-Conservation Tillage Protocol. “If you till 10 per cent or more of your field, that field won’t be eligible to receive […] Read more

Controlled traffic farming has seen the biggest uptake in Australia but is being tried in many countries, including this field in the Czech Republic photographed in 2015.

The next big thing? Pioneers of CTF have high hopes

Controlled traffic farming may be the biggest advance since no till, 
but even its fans don’t expect it to be an overnight success

Reading Time: 5 minutes Controlled traffic farming has many benefits, but it still hasn’t caught on big in Alberta. There are only a handful of farmers in the province who have adopted the practice and a recent conference drew just over 50 people — even though CTF, as it’s commonly called, is hailed by some as the biggest advance […] Read more