GFM Network News


Residual herbicide and crop injury

Residual herbicide and crop injury

When the worst happens: what questions to ask and how to soil test for a bioassay

Your cereal, oil seed or legume crop clearly shows that it has been significantly damaged by herbicide application or residual herbicide that was applied to cropland one or more years previously. You are considering possible legal action. What do you do next? First of all, you just don’t take a few photographs, complain about significantly […] Read more

Tillage can help warm the soil faster for earlier seeding, but it also gives weeds a better environment to germinate.

Tillage systems’ impact on weeds and disease

No-till and minimum-till systems both have agronomic drawbacks and advantages

No-till and minimum-till systems both have their advantages and drawbacks, especially when it comes to managing weeds, disease and insects in next season’s crop. Let’s start by looking at the advantages of no-till systems. Right off the bat, they’re great for soil and moisture conservation — particularly when you’re working on lighter, sandier soils. Growers […] Read more


Soil background

Finally, soil moisture measuring meets new tech

A map of soil moisture at freeze-up can give you a good indication of your yield potential

Water in the bank is a certainty; rainfall is a probability. Much of what we do in farming is based on probabilities — a game of chance. What are the chances we will get timely rains to keep a crop from withering away to a low yield? What are the chances we will suffer disease […] Read more

Engineer in training Alex Barrie talks with machinery editor Scott Garvey during Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show in Woodstock, Ontario.

Engineers study machine-related soil compaction

Ontario team working to establish 
tire inflation guidelines

It wasn’t all that long ago that many agronomists in Canada weren’t even willing to concede soil compaction might be a problem. The freeze-thaw cycle, many argued, significantly mitigated it. But now with more available data and new thinking, most seem to agree that the seasonal temperature cycle doesn’t fully eliminate the problem. And preventing […] Read more


This photo was taken on August 1, 2009. There was great crop growth, from old fashioned methods.

Cover crops and green manure

In the Palliser Triangle, cover crops aren’t the answer in a dry cycle

The current interest in soil health issues has expanded our thinking and spawned much research and new farm-scale work with many new-to-us plant species. Cover crops are planted in the non-commercial season to add diversity to the mix and juice up the soil organisms that go along with the different plants. In wet years, cover […] Read more

It didn’t take much disturbance to raise the dust during a tillage demonstration at the 2018 Ag In Motion farm show.

Well here is a game changing concept

Profitable crop production with little or no added inputs. Is someone talking nonsense?

Talk about an interesting contrast in messages! In one week during my summer travels I attended a first-in-Canada Soil Health School in Manning (Alberta Peace River region) and a few days later I was eating dust at a tillage demonstration at the Ag In Motion farm show at Langham, Sask. My old brain had to […] Read more


This is what the asparagus patch looked like on October 10, 2017. Obviously still accessing enough water. It can root to 12 feet or more, so capillary rise from the water table is keeping it going.

Finally, the well went dry

Do you know where your water table is, 
and what it will offer this year?

At my Dundurn farm I now have three years of records of the water table level in my asparagus crop in the yard and at two locations in the annual cropped field. Now, you may wonder why I would bother you with asparagus data. I use my asparagus patch as a surrogate for perennial forage […] Read more

Cover crops provide residue on the surface over the winter, catching snow. In the spring, when that snow melts, salts are flushed down.

Managing soil salinity through cover crops

For the growing problem of dry land salinity, try planting a cover crop

Dry land salinity is a major problem on the Prairies. In Alberta, about 1.6 million acres of dry land are impacted by secondary salinity. On average, Alberta crop yields are reduced by 25 per cent annually because of the problem. Salinity also impacts 3.3 million acres in Saskatchewan and 0.6 million acres in Manitoba as […] Read more


The photo shows this old scribe in his young kid days giving advice to a farmer by phone — a very efficient way to do business back in the day when phones were answered. But, I was only able to help because the #12 Soils Map was right beside my phone. My first question was always, “Where are you from?” Then I could take a quick peek at the map and give a much better answer. Many thought I had the soils map in my head — 
but now the truth comes out.

Precision ag Step 1: soil maps

The most important part of precision agriculture is the soil maps of your fields


My first work on precision agriculture was actually in the 1960s and colleagues had been doing work on the idea before that. Back then it was all about identifying specific soil profile types in a field and trying to determine if their variable properties could be managed differently. Some things were clear: 1. Leached (white […] Read more

There’s a perception in the farming community that soil erosion and degradation are in the past, but that simply isn't the case.

Don’t forget lessons of the Dirty 30s

Although there’s a perception that dust is past, tillage erosion is on the rise in Manitoba

It seemed like the beginning of the end of the world: friends and neighbours dying of “dust pneumonia” and massive dust storms sweeping the land. These are some of the recollections of people who were alive in the “Dirty 30s,” recorded for an oral history project by Daryl Ritchison, interim director of the North Dakota […] Read more