GFM Network News


Building soil health for future generations is the main goal on Tim Nerbas’ farm in Waseca, Sask. Nerbas took the first steps toward improving soil health on NRG Farms more than 20 years ago when he made the decision to eliminate tillage entirely. Some of the farmland had not been tilled for more than 30 years. From there, he focused on crop variety and diversity and constant cover, which he sees as crucial to soil health.

Soil health management on Harvest Moon and NRG farms

Alberta and Saskatchewan producers discuss soil care

Since an unexpected disaster in 2017, in many respects, Alberta farmer Andy Kirschenman has had to start over. In October of that year, a massive fire ripped through Harvest Moon Farm. The Kirschenmans lost their house, a shed, a combine, quite a bit of equipment and most of the trees in the shelterbelt. But the […] Read more

There is a great diversity of soil microorganisms. Their needs should be considered when starting a new soil management plan. Having a strong soil microbial community will improve physical and chemical constraints.

Take a closer look at your soil assessment

Make sure these important soil health indicators are evaluated

Soil is a complex mixture of organic matter, minerals and countless organisms both alive and dead. To understand whether or not soil is healthy, all of its interconnected properties — physical, chemical and biological — must be evaluated. Through their interconnectivity, these three properties play a crucial role in soil health and affect key parameters […] Read more


Crops such as alfalfa hay (seen here), corn stover or small grain cereal straw contain huge amounts of potassium.

The role and availability of potassium in crops and soils

This key macronutrient is often misunderstood and misrepresented

Potassium is a key macronutrient in all plant and animal nutrition. Its role and availability in crops and soils is frequently misunderstood and misrepresented. In plant tissues, potassium (K) is second only to nitrogen (N) in amount found in plants. It may make up one to three per cent by weight of crop plants, from […] Read more

The original wood framed EM38 complete with store string. Readers of Henry’s Handbook can check out page 81 to get the story behind the store string.

Les Henry: The EM38 Field Scout

The EM38 always gives the right answer — what that answer means in terms of soil interpretation is up to the user and experience

This piece is intended primarily for PAgs and CCAs and the farmers they serve. Field scouting of crops and soils has become an important part of the services provided. Grainews carries a regular column highlighting examples of crop-problem scouting by agronomists with Richardson Pioneer. I read the column each issue and often learn something new […] Read more


Taking the soil microbiome to lunch

Taking the soil microbiome to lunch

Research is just starting to reveal life below the soil surface

Any farmer who has ever asked questions about whether the wide range of crop biological products are necessary and really work to benefit the soil or serve to improve crop yield and quality need to keep asking questions. It is not that the marketplace is full of suspect product claims — the biological industry has […] Read more

This well data can be interpreted as a 30-year net cumulative drought from 1975 to 2005.

Les Henry: On salty ground

We’ve come full circle in the soil salinity cycle

This topic was not on the to-do list for this winter. Soil salinity is a very hot topic right now and many farmers are concerned they will have no land to farm if it carries on like this. The last time I remember such concern about soil salinity was during the late 1970s and early […] Read more


The photo above shows compaction in a wheat field. Adam Gurr, who has been practicing CTF on his farm since 2011, has observed the most obvious source of compaction-related yield loss is a result of in-season traffic, most notably any seeding prep, seeding and sprayer traffic that occurs on wet ground.

Interested in controlled traffic farming? Start with small steps

CTF can prove both practical and beneficial, even with a step partway toward controlling in-field equipment traffic

For Prairie farmers who measure land in hundreds or thousands of acres, how much does it really matter if you drive your equipment a handful of inches this way or that way? A whole lot, says Adam Gurr, a Manitoba producer who completed a master’s degree in agronomy focused on controlled traffic farming (CTF) and […] Read more

As late as 1987, one big rain event did all this damage to a summerfallow field near Eastend, Sask.

Les Henry: Soil productivity, quality and health

Nature and nurture

Soil health is a prominent topic in current scientific and farm management literature. It is good to see attention being paid to the soil resource our industry depends on. In this piece, we will try to unravel some of the principles and the practical application of those principles. From the get-go, we must realize farming […] Read more


The MobiLab requires precise but not difficult sample preparation and processing.

iMetos releases its newest version of MobiLab

A fast, easy-to-use, portable soil lab that measures nutrients from soil and plant sap

To maximize crop yields depends on optimizing nutrient management: applying the right product at the right rate, at the right time and in the right place. Since no field is perfectly consistent, the challenge lies in figuring out what precise nutrients are needed where. Enter MobiLab, an easy-to-operate, portable lab that produces on-farm, lab-quality, soil […] Read more

Some crops are a little more salt tol­erant — like canola shown above as well as alfalfa, corn, oats and wheat — and you will probably not see sig­nificant yield loss until you hit a conductivity number of about two mS/cm, says Lyle Cowell with Nutrien Ag Solutions.

Crops and saline soils

Plant something, but choose carefully

When it comes to planting most annual cash crops on saline land, Lyle Cowell does not mince words: stop. “When a cattle farm has a cow that is no longer productive, that cattle farmer will not continue to try to breed that cow. It will be culled,” says the agronomist with Nutrien Ag Solutions in […] Read more