GFM Network News

Cover crop growing after harvest.

Why didn’t my cover crop work?

Kevin Elmy lists nine potential causes of things that could go wrong when you try growing cover crops on your farm

Ever try something and it didn’t work the first time? What’s the next step? Try again doing the same thing, modify the approach or give up? Ideally, getting a mentor or someone with experience to find out what went wrong will help create a successful situation. Or maybe it just doesn’t work. Cover cropping is […] Read more

Some modern agricultural practices are reducing stable organic matter and driving many soils to be bacterially dominated.

Bacterial-based soils: addicted to crop inputs

Adding high-quality carbon to our soils can make farming more fun and profitable

Soils everywhere in the world consist of air, minerals, water and organic matter. Where the difference occurs is in the composition of soil in different places. As agricultural producers, we can only really manage the organic matter. In a conference this winter, Jay Fuhrer, a conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Bismarck, North […] Read more

The family at Friendly Acres Seed Farm. Kevin Elmy and his wife Christina, Kevin’s parents, Robert and Verene, and Kevin and Christina’s daughters, Kennedy and Haley.

Friendly Acres 2018 year in review

Changes are in store for Friendly Acres, but soil health will still be the top priority

One of the challenges of farming in a continental climate is weather. That is why farmers talk about it, complain about it, and want to either get good forecasts for it or control over it. Looks like the excess water issue that we had for eight years solved itself. Two years of below-normal moisture has […] Read more

Photo: Thinkstock

Four ways to increase your organic matter

A question that I hear a lot is, “How do cover crops fit into a grain operation?” Lots of grain farmers have no desire to get into the livestock business and no interest in producing hay. But many have some soil issues that need to be addressed. This can be done by buying more iron […] Read more

This soil is repairing and building, and looks like cottage cheese.

Balancing the soil biology

Helping Mother Nature with the fungi:bacteria ratio can keep our soils more productive

Soil health. Sounds like a good target we should be aiming at. Where do we start? What do we measure? How do we know when we get there? The first thing we need to find out is where are we? Nicole Masers is an agro-ecologist with Integrity Soils. For her three-day course in regenerative soil […] Read more

There were no hives for 30 miles, but still piles of bees around the Phacelia stand.

My 2017 crop year in review

It was dry, but still a good year at Kevin Elmy’s Friendly Acres Seed Farm in eastern Saskatchewan

For the producers that wanted a drier year, we definitely got that in 2017. Between 2009 and 2016, we received just under 200 inches (500 mm) of rain, so a year with “normal” rain would have been well received. 2017 delivered 2-1/2 inches (63 mm), and two-thirds of that came in the beginning of June. […] Read more

Deciding on cover crop blends

Deciding on cover crop blends

Figuring out what to use in a cover crop blend can be an intimidating process. What species to use? What seeding rate? When should they be seeded? All would influence how the blend would look, work, and the success of it. There is some science involved, but making it work is as much art as […] Read more

This tillage radish is in the early stages of getting to work.

The economic value of growing cover crops

Not all of the economic benefits of cover crops can be measured easily, but it’s worth a try

The first question that comes up when cover crops are discussed is “Do they pay?” Net returns from cover crops will be determined by what goals were set, what species were grown and other intrinsic benefits from the cover crop. In any business, net profit is the difference between costs and revenue. The two ways […] Read more


On the farm: the 2016 crop year in review

Every year is different on Kevin Elmy's farm. This year: cover crops, soybeans and rain

The good thing about farming is two years are rarely alike. 2016 started out a bit on the dry side, with close to ideal subsoil moisture. The occasional May shower did not delay seeding much. About 20 per cent of our acres were seeded in the fall of 2015 to Luoma winter triticale, which helped reduce the spring […] Read more

Crop diversity, rotational diversity and, if possible, getting animals on the land, are the ways to start building soil health.

Cover crops for better soil health

Cover crops can help build the “livestock” that lives in the soil and improves productivity

It appears that the idea of farmers improving the soil is starting to take hold. The Western Canadian Soil Health Conference was held in Edmonton, Alberta, the first part of December 2015. Nora Paulovich and Tom Fromme, co-chairs on the organizing committee, did a wonderful job pulling speakers together and organizing it. It started at […] Read more