GFM Network News


Micronutrients and prairie agriculture

As we increase expected yields, we need to consider micronutrient availability

In my many years of involvement in agricultural and horticultural pursuits, I have repeatedly come across cynicism when I talk about the need for micronutrients. North Americans, as well as Europeans, are slow to realize the absolute role that micronutrients play in plant and animal health and well-being. Unlike horticulturalists, particularly the Dutch horticulturalist specialists, […] Read more

Aster yellow damage in 2012

The real extent of the crop yield damage done by aster yellows that summer

Aster yellows is a minute phytoplasma bacterium that causes losses annually to a wide range of farm and horticultural crops. Most years, it is usual to see little in the way of aster yellows damage to canola, the most obviously affected crop. When you check canola fields in full bloom you can often pick out […] Read more


Facts can be stranger than fiction

These mineral and nutritional facts about plants and animals are strange, but true

If you need some very interesting reading this winter consider buying a book called, Around the World in 80 Trees by Jonathan Drori. It’s fascinating. Drori describes trees from all around the world, including Canada. For example, rubber got its name from the original latex that the British used to cut into chunks to rub […] Read more

The 2019 harvest on the Prairies left little to be desired, with crops still left in fields for a good number of farmers.

Speeding up crop maturity

Consider these nine factors to make sure you have time to get your crop in the bin in 2020

Last season, 2019, was a bad crop-growing season on the Canadian Prairies. There are various estimates of 10 to 25 per cent of all crops left unharvested in swaths or even still standing on cropland. Well, in that case, 75 to 90 per cent of the crop is in the bin, despite the weather. Lots […] Read more


An acre of such soil may have up to 1,000 lbs. of earthworms, 2,500 lbs. of fungi, 1,500 lbs. of bacteria and up to 1,000 lbs. of protozoa and insects — most fully active in June and July.

Understanding soil organic matter

Do you know your crop residues from your soil organic matter?

The word “organic,” just like “environmental” has become confusing over the last 20 or 30 years. Organic food for example? All the food we eat is organic (except salt or other minerals). All farming activities are environmental, but every misinformed urbanite calls him or herself an environmentalist. “Soil organic matter” is made up of a […] Read more

Those pesky pigeons

Turn your on-farm nuisance into a new hobby for the New Year

Are there any farmsteads on the Canadian Prairies that do not have a flock of circling pigeons looking for spoiled grain? Believe it or not, pigeons were the first birds to be domesticated many thousands of years ago. Worldwide, countless millions of pigeons are kept for racing, ornamentation, fun and food. There are some 310 […] Read more


A large male wild boar — which can top 600 pounds — in a rare daytime photo. The animals tend to be nocturnal.

A boaring threat to our meat production

The growing population of wild boar on the prairies threatens livestock production


People who say they have never seen wild boar should watch the ditches at dusk from Florida to Dawson Creek. I have seen them at both locations and many places in between, and more than once avoided a disastrous collision with a wild boar. Wild boar, wild swine, Sas scrofa, Eurasian wild pig or just […] Read more

Coyotes offer a credible rodent control service every day of the year.

Please do not shoot those coyotes

One man’s poison is another man’s meal. Or at least a meal for that pesky coyote


Prairie people frequently get together to shoot coyotes, often with the support of local farmers. I’m not against disposing of problem wildlife, but I fail to see any benefits from shooting coyotes. Coyotes are a major reason why we are not overrun by rabbits, jackrabbits, voles, mice, pocket gophers, rats and ground squirrels. If we […] Read more


The white thistles at the roadside and in the field near Edmonton in 2019 will either be severely weakened or they will die since they have no chlorophyll.

Bleached tops means bye-bye Canada thistle

Take a look in the ditches near you. A fungus may be infecting those weeds

Canada thistle is an invasive import from Europe. It is technically called Circium arvense, a prickly member of the Aster family. In the U.K., it’s called creeping thistle; in New Zealand it’s called Californian thistle, perhaps derived from Canada thistle. Canada thistle is also known in North America by a range of other names but […] Read more

These photos, taken on August 15 just west of Edmonton, show classic copper deficiency. The field is a sandy loam soil with five to six per cent organic matter. The roadway, built about 10 years ago, has shoulders made up from deep-dug clay loam piled onto the field from the ditch. This clay loam is low in organic matter, probably one to two per cent or less, but high in available copper (see more below, including video).

Identifying copper deficiency in wheat

Ieuan Evans looks at 2019 growing conditions, including areas where copper levels are low


In early August in central Alberta I was still seeing yellow fields of canola. Honeybees and mosquitoes were having an extended nectar flowing season. I will stick my neck out as usual and make a few observations and prophecies across the Western Prairies. Crops are late in the northern part of the Western Prairies, but […] Read more