GFM Network News


St(RAW) deal

St(RAW) deal

Don’t rob our Prairie croplands — help rejuvenate them by working in all crop residues

Here we go again. “Alberta May Get Straw Plant” was a headline that appeared last summer in an agricultural publication. Why the concern? How many of you remember those massive piles of straw on the Trans-Canada Highway near Elie, Man., just east of Winnipeg? There were stacks and stacks of big, round straw bales — […] Read more

I bioassayed soil in January from a field treated twice with the herbicide tribenuron-methyl in 2020 to determine if the field was suitable for a canola crop this year. It was not — the potted field soil fried the canola seedlings, which is shown in the photo at bottom. The photo at top is the check. I recommended the farmer stay with wheat this year on this quarter.

Herbicides and bioassays

A dry fall followed by a dry spring may leave much higher levels of residual herbicides

When you use a soil-persistent herbicide, there are many factors you must consider very seriously. The first thing you have to do is read the label that comes with the herbicide. It will tell you how to mix and apply, water source, what weeds are controlled and so on. Read it very carefully. Of course, […] Read more


In order for crops to grow successfully, a select group of nutrients need to be present in your soil.

A look at organic farming

Your crop’s nutrient requirements are the same whether you choose organic or conventional production systems

The word organic in farm practice is just about totally confusing. Does it mean pesticide-free, GMO-free, or chemically produced fertilizer-free. Just keep in mind there are no such things as synthetic fertilizers. All fertilizers are simply minerals that are essential for plant growth. These minerals are the macro fertilizers, such as nitrogen (N), phosphate (P), […] Read more

Crops such as alfalfa hay (seen here), corn stover or small grain cereal straw contain huge amounts of potassium.

The role and availability of potassium in crops and soils

This key macronutrient is often misunderstood and misrepresented

Potassium is a key macronutrient in all plant and animal nutrition. Its role and availability in crops and soils is frequently misunderstood and misrepresented. In plant tissues, potassium (K) is second only to nitrogen (N) in amount found in plants. It may make up one to three per cent by weight of crop plants, from […] Read more


Pea root rot moves into new cropland about the same way as clubroot. Follow the clubroot protocol.

The looming Prairie-wide pea crop disaster

Follow the clubroot protocol to ensure your future as a pea grower

When I first became involved in checking out pea diseases in Alberta in 1974, pea crops were few and far between. Pea growing was somewhat of a disaster. The pea variety generally grown was called Trapper. This was a tall, six-foot vine that lodged as soon as pod-filling took place. The mass of lodged leaves […] Read more

How to prevent a clubroot catastrophe

How to prevent a clubroot catastrophe

Some recommendations for all scenarios

The mentality amongst some of our Prairie canola growers is, “I’ll just wait until clubroot shows up and then I will seed a resistant variety.” Big mistake! Canola growers whose croplands are free of this destructive disease should be seeding resistant canola varieties right away. Yes, this year. Before clubroot shows up. I presently handle […] Read more


Zero tillage: lime it occasionally

Zero tillage: lime it occasionally

Acidification of the top few inches may inhibit cereal growth

Anything we do these days often comes with a meaningless label. For example, people say, “I am a Catholic, a Baptist, a Methodist …” but haven’t been near a church in many years. Some say, “I am right wing, left wing, green, a socialist, conservative …” but when questioned, most individuals have no definition or […] Read more

The forgotten plant and animal mineral micronutrients

The forgotten plant and animal mineral micronutrients

Ten nutrient minerals essential for plants and animal nutrition

How many times have you read about plants needing 16 nutrients for growth? The usual carbon, oxygen and hydrogen as well as the macrominerals nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, calcium and magnesium (N, P, K, S, Ca and Mg, respectively). This is followed by micronutrients such as boron, copper, chloride, manganese, iron, molybdenum and zinc (B, […] Read more


Faked fuzz facts on fusarium

Faked fuzz facts on fusarium

The real story of Alberta’s fusarium head blight control program

Fusarium head blight (FHB) of wheat, barley, oat, rye and triticale caused by Fusarium graminearum is the most destructive disease of cereals in Western Canada right now. This fungus is also a destructive disease on corn, particularly in Ontario and the United States, where it is the exact same disease that we have on small […] Read more

The Prairies produce approximately 85 to 90 per cent of Canada’s honey with a major reliance on canola flowering.

Why do we let the tail wag the dog?

Is this a foretaste of livestock and grain farmer harassment in the near future?

All kinds of minor groups rail against the vast majority of ordinary citizens; for example, the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) or the anti-herbicide or pesticide groups in our cities. Take Edmonton, for example. In the city zoo, they have a long-term elephant called Lucy. The elephant is now […] Read more