GFM Network News


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


This soil is repairing and building, and looks like cottage cheese.

Balancing the soil biology

Helping Mother Nature with the fungi:bacteria ratio can keep our soils more productive

Soil health. Sounds like a good target we should be aiming at. Where do we start? What do we measure? How do we know when we get there? The first thing we need to find out is where are we? Nicole Masers is an agro-ecologist with Integrity Soils. For her three-day course in regenerative soil […] Read more

Stubble soil moisture map, November 1, 2017

Les Henry’s annual map of fall soil moisture going into the winter months

The November 1, 2016, fall soil moisture map was, in a word, wet. In Manitoba and much of Saskatchewan all soils were at field capacity (holding maximum available water) and many areas were so wet that water tables were near enough to surface to be a factor. When the water table is within about five […] Read more


This slide cabinet holds 5,000 slides and allows me to view 120 at a time. Any slide can be located in a flash if a good filing system is in place.

Exhibit 1: Weather cycles — Willowbunch Lake

Over the course of 30+ years at the University of Saskatchewan I collected about 5,000 35 mm colour slides. Many were taken by me while pounding pavement but I also “inherited” slides from folks who retired or moved. I also have a slide cabinet at home with hundreds of slides from junkets to Tanzania, Swaziland […] Read more

Promise of self-fertilizing attracts investment

Bayer bets big on a future where crops are designed to fertilizer themselves

There are a lot of efforts underway to optimize and minimize fertilizer use in crop production. Precision agriculture tools are improving the accuracy of where fertilizer is placed so that as much of it as possible reaches the plants that need it. And researchers from at least two Canadian universities — Ottawa’s Carleton University and […] Read more


Farming through the drought cycles

Soils and Crops: Even with modern ag technology, we’re still reliant on rain or soil moisture

As the combines started to roll this fall, many were very surprised at how hard the truckers had to work. While not a barn burner, the 2017 crop will go in the books for many as good, and considering the lack of rainfall some will say it is great. We all like to point out […] Read more

Different types of soil have different properties. University of Alberta research is focusing on measuring soil quality.

Controlling traffic to improve your soil

A new test offers another way to test soil quality improvements

It can be called “fractal hierarchical aggregation” or just “fractal aggregation.” Whatever the moniker, the new method of soil health testing promises to offer an important way to assess soil quality and land stewardship, says Guillermo Hernandez, an assistant professor at the University of Alberta. Hernandez is the lead researcher on a suite of projects […] Read more


Farm it like you’re ‘just’ renting it?

Do farmers look after rented farmland differently than land they own? Should they?

We’ve all heard the term “drive it like a rental” but could that also apply to farmland? Is a farmer more likely to use conservation practices like no-till or variable rate technology, or apply more fertilizer and/or manure to improve the fertility on land he or she owns than on rented land? In April 2013, […] Read more

Tom King (left) from the soils science department at the University of Saskatchewan talked about plant nutrient and 4R field trials at Saskatchewan Agriculture’s Crop Diagnostic School in Indian Head in July.

Growing crops in saline soil

Sometimes dividing up the field is the best solution to salinity

The Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture’s Crop Diagnostic School is a great opportunity for farmers and agronomists to get outside for a hands-on, up-close look at plots, plants, insects and weeds. This summer, the School was held in Indian Head over two days in July. One of the many speakers, Gary Krueger, Saskatchewan Agriculture irrigation agrologist […] Read more