GFM Network News


Most alfalfa seed growers straight combine their crop after desiccation. Blue leafcutter bee shelters can be seen in the backround.

Alfalfa seed production

Growing alfalfa for seed can require intensive management, 
but can be rewarding. Learn the basics of alfalfa seed production


Including alfalfa in a crop rotation can bring a number of agronomic benefits. Prairie farmers grow alfalfa for both forage and seed. Randy Toman, a farmer near Guernsey, Sask., began growing alfalfa for seed production over a decade ago. With lighter land well suited to forage and legume production, alfalfa was a good fit for […] Read more

Leafcutter bee production

Many alfalfa seed growers raise their own leafcutter bees 
to pollinate their crops and earn some extra cash

Leafcutter bees are the bee of choice when it comes to pollinating alfalfa. They are aboveground nesters and good pollinators, which favour alfalfa nectar. According to Bob Mennie, production manager of Mennie Bee Farms Inc., near Parkside, Sask., leafcutter bees are “easy to handle and tend to stay close to where the shelters are.” Managing […] Read more


Eight steps to growing malt barley

While not all barley growers are aiming their product at the malt market, 
if you are, here are some agronomic tips to help you make the grade

For many farmers, barley is a good crop choice to include in their rotation, but the standards for malting quality are understandably high. Dr. John O’Donovan, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) research scientist, notes that “only about 20 to 25 per cent of the barley in Western Canada is accepted for malting every year.” Farmers […] Read more

Six row malting barley

While six row malting barley was popular in the past, it has fallen out of favour. “It used to be the exclusive malting barley type,” says Dr. Aaron Beattie, assistant professor and barley and oat breeder at the University of Saskatchewan. In addition to tradition, reasons for this include that some brewers felt it imparted […] Read more


What malt buyers want

If you’re targeting the malt market, find out what your buyers want and what they’re planning to do with it

At malting companies like Rahr Malting, all of their contract with barley growers require barley samples to be prequalified as malting quality. With certain contracts, storage payments will be provided if they don’t take the barley immediately, though the amount of time the farmer holds the grain is negotiable. It is rare that farmers would […] Read more

Phosphorus recommendations

Phosphorus is one of the macronutrients a plant requires to grow successfully, yet the phosphorus recommendations for a particular crop can vary, and a number of factors influence the amount and availability of phosphorus in the soil. Provincial guidelines The provincial guidelines for recommended fertilizer rates are based on local research completed within each province. […] Read more


Holding on to phosphorus

Plants can’t always use the phosphorus in your soil. Here are six factors that determine available levels

Most soils on the Canadian prairies are phosphorus deficient — 80 per cent of the fields in Saskatchewan, according to Dr. Don Flaten, soil science professor at the University of Manitoba. In Manitoba, 60 per cent of fields were found to be lacking in phosphorus; 50 per cent in Alberta. There are two major causes […] Read more

Phosphorus application methods

Almost all soil phosphorus originates from the parent material, but much of this phosphorus remains unavailable to plants, so for a crop to have a sufficient supply of plant available phosphorus, some additional phosphorus needs to be put down. There are five main types of commercial phosphorus fertilizers: monoammonium phosphate (MAP), diammonium phosphate (DAP), triple […] Read more