GFM Network News


Mycorrhizal linkage to crop plants in normal soils have been shown to supply phosphate, copper and zinc to growing crops.

Facts about phosphorus you should know

Highly-manured soils, wet growing conditions and lodging in cereal crops

Phosphorus or phosphate (P) is the most complex of the big four macronutrients in crop production. When you buy phosphate fertilizer, you are actually buying P2O5 the oxidized version, which is 62 parts actual P and 80 parts oxygen. Your actual P is only 43 per cent by weight. The phosphate in all soils is […] Read more

Some researchers have found that the land equivalent ratio is greater with crops grown together than with crops grown individually.

The science behind intercropping

When plants can share nutrients, they can yield higher together than separately

Just as the adoption of no-till agriculture on the Prairies several decades ago was farmer-driven, the current shift to ecological (sometimes called regenerative) agricultural practices is no different, says Dr. Martin Entz of the University of Manitoba. “In this fascinating carbon world, we’re now moving beyond just crop rotation and beyond just grazing management all […] Read more


Apparently plants are effective communicators both above and below ground.

Don’t trust your oats with any secrets

Hart Attacks: You don’t want to know what plants are saying about you behind your sprayer

Today’s take home message: watch what you say or do out in the buckwheat patch. Plants aren’t exactly seeing, but they could be listening and they are definitely communicating. That’s what Jack Schutlz, a biologist and zoologist at the University of Missouri, whose business card describes him as a chemical ecologist, tells me anyway. Schultz […] Read more

If producers really want to try and get moisture levels down in their soil and decide to till, they need to think carefully about their phosphorus needs, says Dr. Mario Tenuta.

Tillage is tempting, but treacherous

While tillage can get you in the field faster, it can also disrupt networks in your soil

Many farmers across Western Canada have been struggling with wetter than normal conditions over the past few years. This spring many will again be facing soils that are close to the saturation point and puzzling over how to deal with them. Some farmers may turn to tillage to help dry them out, or at the very least to smooth […] Read more


McGrath and helpers dig some soil pits along transect lines on native prairie
pasture that is part of Round Rock Ranching to establish some baselines through nutrient and biological soil testing.

Are you a (soil) health nut?

Any treatments applied above ground will eventually affect what happens below your feet

I was eternally blessed to enter the University of Saskatchewan while Les Henry was still teaching at a time when we were “forced” to take at least an introductory soil science course. I learned a lot in that introductory course; mostly about how much I didn’t know (and how much Dr. Henry did). But more […] Read more

Moisture and a reduced stocking rate helped pastures to get back into a productive state above and below ground.

Keeping soil biology ticking

Pasture Management: Grazing setbacks happen, but find opportunities to get back on track

Normal weather” at 4 Clover Ranch near Rocky Mountain House, Alta. has been illusive for a couple of years at least and it has created some grazing challenges at the expense of pasture performance. Our planned grazing system, where we look at the health of the grass on an ongoing basis, has responded well over […] Read more


Cover crops can help increase production by keeping soil cool, retaining moisture, and feeding the microbes and earthworms that build a healthy soil.

How to plan your first cover crop

Before you choose a cover crop mix, make sure you know what you want it to do

Cover crops are becoming more popular. But how do you plan your first cover crop? The first part of the planning process is setting goals, says Kevin Elmy, owner of Friendly Acres Seed Farm at Saltcoats, Saskatchewan. Elmy has been growing cover crops for seven years and now grows and sells cover crop mixes. “With […] Read more

Dr. Mario Tenuta looks at arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi through a microscope at CanolaPALOOZA, hosted by the Manitoba Canola Growers Association and the Canola Council of Canada at Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, in June.

Nurture fungus for good growth

Find out why your flax suffers following canola. It’s all about the fungus

There are a of things to consider when you’re planning long-term rotations: herbicide rotations, nitrogen needs, rainfall. How about adding fungus to that list? The relationship between fungi in your soil and plant roots has a big impact on your crop health. This relationship can cause flax to be stunted when it’s grown in rotation after canola. […] Read more


Putting life back into tired soil

Productive soils should translate into more productive livestock

Last fall we were able to disc 10 acres of our old hayfield that has been increasingly infested with water hemlock. Considering this has been a work in progress for about 10 years it felt magnificent to actually, finally, have the equipment, time, and weather all at once. After researching chemical control of water hemlock, cultivation […] Read more

There are miles and miles of microscopic fungi “root” hairs in this soil ball creating a vast network of pockets to capture water and create a microclimate for other microorganisms, protozoa, amoeba, bacteria and enzymes — all key elements in nutrient-cycling process.

Soil fungi key to grass production

The soil is a complex world working hard to complete natural cycling

We always enjoy the cattle on 4-Clover Ranch near Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. It was our own animals back in the day and now someone else’s are on the farm for summer grazing. Fact is, we are really grass farmers and have chosen to harvest the grass with cattle rather than the haybine. We have […] Read more