GFM Network News


Researcher Yvonne Lawley presents on cover crops at a meeting with the Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers Jan. 29.

Survey of Prairie cover crops continues

Researcher Yvonne Lawley shared preliminary results with Pulse and Soybean Growers Jan. 29

A University of Manitoba researcher is calling on Prairie farmers to talk to her about their cover crops. Yvonne Lawley, assistant professor of agronomy and cropping systems at the university, is conducting a survey across Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta to determine how many farmers are planting cover crops — and why. She shared preliminary results at a

A cover crop cocktail?

Pre-made mixes promise an easy jumping-off point on cover crops, but some worry that they increase the amount at risk

Joe Gardiner of Clearwater has spent a lot of effort getting ahead of the curve on cover crops. His cover mixes can include up to 15 species in a season-long cover. He does relay cropping. He picks his seed to include a range of cool- and warm-season plants, legumes, forbs, broadleafs and grasses. He thinks


Cover crops may buffer bad spring in 2020

This fall had little window for fall-seeded cover crops, but those who already have cover crops in the ground say it’s now their best insurance against a wet spring

Joe Gardiner of Clearwater has an insurance policy against a wet spring next year — and it has nothing to do with MASC. Gardiner is one of a growing number of Manitoba farmers to embrace cover crops, having started the practice several years ago in an effort to increase fall grazing. This year, he jumped

The learning curve of cover crops

Cover crops may have an almost endless number of combinations, but end goals, planting windows and seed costs may help narrow down species selection

It’s not enough to convince producers to give cover crops a shot — there needs to be a game plan. There are plenty of reasons why. Seed can be expensive, especially if there’s no livestock to help recoup that cost through their digestive systems. Many worry the fall seeding window is too narrow to give

Robert (Bob) McNabb, with wife Elaine, was inducted into the Canadian Conservation 
Hall of Fame on November 13.

Manitoba zero-till pioneer inducted into conservation hall of fame

Robert (Bob) McNabb called for greater passion for soil, aligning profit with ecology

Manitoba farmer Robert (Bob) McNabb called for greater passion for soil as he was inducted into the Canadian Conservation Hall of Fame in Winnipeg, November 13. In his acceptance address, McNabb called on those gathered to approach soil conservation with the same passion as teenage, Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. “If we could get on


How a radish cover crop interseeded into soybeans planted in August looked on Sept. 27, 2019.

Calling all cover croppers!

A survey is looking for hard numbers on the practice and what it looks like on Prairie farms

The University of Manitoba is looking for numbers on local cover crop use, and it’s turning to producers to get them. Yvonne Lawley of the University of Manitoba is spearheading the Prairie Cover Crop Survey, which hopes to gauge how widely and in what form cover crops are taking root across the Prairies. The survey

Ryan Pritchard and Yvonne Lawley point out the features of his strip tiller, which Pritchard modified himself.

Soil is complicated… so are people

Soil Council of Canada's summit on soil health explored diverse issues of soil health across Canada and how to win people to the cause

It used to take six or seven passes over Ryan Pritchard’s fields to get them ready for spring — harrow, cultivate, harrow, deep till, fertilize. Pritchard, who works full time off farm, was looking for a way to save time. “Can’t go no till. It’s too cold a climate,” he told a tour group during

Algal blooms are nothing new on Lake Winnipeg. But what’s causing them is a very complex, multi-jurisdictional problem.

Getting phosphorus out of Lake Winnipeg and onto fields

Manitoba’s agriculture needs and waterways are on opposite sides of the phosphorus debate — or are they?

Lake Winnipeg might be drowning in phosphorus, but plenty of soils in the province are gasping for it. Lake Winnipeg has become infamous for its water quality, and not in a good way. Algal blooms and E. coli cases have become a familiar state of affairs in the south basin, while over half of samples


Yvonne Lawley talks cover crops during Crops-A-Palooza in Carberry in July.  
photos: Alexis Stockford

Calculating a good cover crop plan

Set yourself up for success when it comes to cover crops

Farmers will need more than a cursory plan to reap the benefit of cover crops in the Keystone province. Cover crops have gained their champions in Manitoba. The practice is cited among other alternative grazing strategies like bale or swath grazing to extend the grazing season and, arguably, improve soil, according to livestock and forage

Farmers, agronomists, and people with an interest in global soil health met in Carman July 25 and 26 to discuss the challenges of protecting soil.

Carman event serves up common ground on soil health practices

Canadian and African agronomists shared perspectives on conservation agriculture at a recent Canadian Foodgrains Bank forum

Jocelyn Velestuk stood in front of the research station classroom filled with people and confessed to an addiction of sorts. “I am obsessed with soil,” the Saskatchewan farmer and agronomist told her audience. “I even had a mud-themed birthday party when I was young,” she said in a later interview. “The first soil science class