GFM Network News


The direction of western Canadian agronomic research today

How agronomic research in Western Canada can be more effective and efficient

Prairie farmers have become very successful at growing very good yielding, high quality crops. Success is due in large part to many years of excellent agronomic research including advances in crop breeding, sustainable crop rotations, improved soil management, development of direct seeding technology, development of fertilizer and nutrient management practices and improved management to control weeds, […] Read more

Location of Class 2 and 3 lands in Alberta using the Agriculture Canada Land Suitability Rating System. Alberta has no Class 1 agricultural land. Alberta’s Class 2 land is mostly located in the vicinity of Calgary.


Loss of our prime agricultural lands

Agronomy Management: In Western Canada, we're losing our most productive lands

Soil and water are the most important sustainable natural resources in Western Canada. Both are essential to produce food and sustain human life. We hear a lot about the dwindling quality and availability of freshwater supplies, but society does not recognize the importance of soil. We continue to lose more and more of our best […] Read more


Some agronomists suggest postponing a portion of N fertilizer until the crop is actively growing.

In-crop nitrogen fertilizer application

Agronomy Management: In-crop N application is becoming more popular. But is it a good fit for your farm?

Many farmers in Western Canada band their nitrogen (N) fertilizer before seeding or place all fertilizer in a side or mid-row band at the time of planting for their cereal and oilseed crops. Both are very sound practices. After seeding, most of the N fertilizer will slowly convert from ammonium nitrate (NH4+) to nitrate nitrogen (NO3-), the form […] Read more

Deep tillage can be beneficial under specific soil conditions, but use can also have serious negative effects on soil quality.

Understanding soil compaction

Agronomy Management: How to manage each of the three main types of compaction in your fields

In the last issue of Grainews I wrote about the effects of compaction on soil. Now, I’ll discuss the specific types of soil compaction and the ways each type can be managed. 1. Surface soil crusting This type of compaction is caused by a combination of soil tillage and raindrop impact. Causes: Tillage can bury much of […] Read more


The effects of soil compaction

In the first of a two-part series, learn how to diagnose soil compaction in your field

Soil compaction can be a serious form of soil degradation resulting in decreased crop production and increased risk of soil erosion. Soil compaction can reduce water infiltration into soil, crop emergence, root penetration, crop nutrient uptake and water uptake — all of which can reduce crop yields. Compaction concerns Soil compaction is caused by tillage […] Read more

The diamondback moth is one of the more common insect pests that can reduce yield in mustard crops.

Weeds, disease and insects in mustard

In the final part of a 4-part series on mustard agronomy, Ross McKenzie turns his attention to pests

Weed control is generally my greatest concern when growing mustard. Weed competition can greatly reduce mustard yields by competing for available light, nutrients and moisture. Although mustard seedlings are not very competitive with weeds, there are ways that growers can reduce the early effects of weeds: burndown of weeds in fall and/or early spring before […] Read more


Managing mustard fertilizer

Part 3 of this 4-part series on mustard agronomy covers mustard's fertilizer needs

In the last issue of Grainews, I discussed the nitrogen needs of mustard. Now, let’s turn to the other fertilizers mustard requires. Phosphorus (P) About 80 per cent of brown and dark brown soils are deficient in phosphorus (P). Soil P availability to plants can be assessed by soil sampling and testing to determine plant-available […] Read more

Mustard fertilizer management

In Part 2 of a 4-part series on mustard agronomy, Ross McKenzie talks fertilizer

In the last issue of Grainews, I discussed agronomic management of growing mustard. In this issue we’ll discuss nitrogen requirements; in the next issue, we’ll discuss the other nutrients mustard needs to achieve optimum production. Mustard grown on cereal stubble almost always needs nitrogen fertilizer, frequently needs phosphate fertilizer and occasionally needs sulphur fertilizer. Soil […] Read more


Managing mustard on the Prairies

In Part 1 of a 4-Part series on growing mustard, Ross McKenzie looks at basic agronomy

Mustard is one of my favourite crops to grow on dry land in the drier regions of the Prairies. It is a great oilseed crop to include in a diverse crop rotation, which helps to disrupt pest cycles, increase moisture use efficiency and increase farm income. Canada is a world leader in condiment mustard seed […] Read more

This Solonetzic soil has a columnar- structured B horizon, which restricts water and root penetration into sub-soil.

Learn to manage your sodic soils

Got sodic soils on your farm? Here are three options for managing those areas

In the last issue of Grainews I discussed the physical and chemical characteristics of sodic soils. In this issue, I’ll discuss managing those soils. Solonetzic soils in the brown or dark brown soil zones of southern Alberta or southern Saskatchewan, that are in native grassland may be best left in their native condition and used […] Read more