GFM Network News


Lana Shaw is asking for producers to give $200 to “adopt” one of 48 plots in her flax-fababean intercrop trials in Redvers, Sask., this year.

Research to go to a good home

‘Adopt a Plot’ campaign turns to crowdfunding to test novel intercrop combinations

Lana Shaw has a long list of crop combinations she would like to test in the intercrop trial plots, and she hopes farmers themselves will give her the funds to get that research off the ground. The researcher from the South East Research Farm is back again with another crowdfunding research campaign. Shaw is asking

Many farmers are keenly aware that the non-farming public has gained considerable market and political power over what they see as “unsustainable” food production practices.

Comment: If you want to see the future, you need to look ahead

Everyone wants to be seen as sustainable but what does that buzzword even mean?

To most farmers and ranchers, “sustainable” is a word that, like exercise or vacation, has a dictionary definition and a personal definition. The difference between the two, however, often is the difference between the local fair and the World’s Fair. These folks aren’t alone. Almost everyone and everything from commodity groups to coal companies make


Opinion: The long, sustainable view

High inputs (and high costs) have passed most of the value of farm production back to input companies

Who knew that the best view of 21st-century agriculture would be from Darrin Qualman’s farm office near Dundurn, Saskatchewan? And yet, there it is, charted by Qualman, a data bloodhound who thinks graphically but writes plainly. The longtime researcher for Canada’s National Farmers Union appeared on my radar in Feb. 2017 with a blog post

The bambara nut, seen here after being dug, is one type of legume that could benefit from its wild relatives.

Researchers break the wild-domestic barrier in legumes

They’re hoping to tap wild relatives for important traits 
such as disease and pest resistance

Domesticating plants to grow as crops can turn out to be a double-edged scythe. On one hand, selecting specific desirable traits, such as high yields, can increase crop productivity. But other important traits, such as resistance to pests, can be lost. To mitigate this, researchers often turn to the wild relatives of crops. These wild

Katherine Stanley (l) has been named as the Manitoba Organic Alliance’s first agronomist.

Manitoba Organic Alliance names agronomist

Katherine Stanley will take on the term position over the next year

Manitoba’s organic farmers now have an agronomist to call their own — even if it’s only for a year. The farmer organization the Manitoba Organic Alliance has teamed up with the University of Manitoba and the provincial Agriculture Department to create a one-year term position for an organic agronomist and Katherine Stanley has been named


Healthy soil is the real key to feeding the world

It’s sustainability, not one production system or the other, that is the real solution

One of the biggest modern myths about agriculture is that organic farming is inherently sustainable. It can be, but it isn’t necessarily. After all, soil erosion from chemical-free tilled fields undermined the Roman Empire and other ancient societies around the world. Other agricultural myths hinder recognizing the potential to restore degraded soils to feed the

Heavy reliance on inputs diverts cash

Nitrogen use can’t keep increasing if greenhouse gas emissions are to fall

There is no way around it, according to Darrin Qualman, reducing carbon emissions will require a hard look at the use of nitrogen fertilizers. Speaking via Skype at the regional conference of the National Farmers Union (NFU) in Portage la Prairie last week, Qualman said the role of agricultural inputs can’t be ignored when it

University of Manitoba professor, Martin Entz says tensions between conventional and organic producers appear to be softening.

Organic agriculture no panacea: study

Too many uncertainties exist to say it’s the only solution

Organic agriculture has benefits but it is not a silver bullet for global food security, a new study says. Too much scientific uncertainty exists for organic agriculture to be considered a better alternative to conventional farming, says the study by two University of British Columbia researchers. “(O)rganic agriculture cannot be the Holy Grail for our


Editorial: A whole-farm approach

If you think the future of government support for agriculture lies in doing more of the same but only better, you’ll get little comfort from Manitoba’s Agriculture Risk Management Review Task Force report released last week. The 25 recommendations and the supporting appendix report should also make you a little uncomfortable if you think the

Small farmers considering their own organization

Nov. 24 meeting will explore how to best represent small-scale farms

Small-scale producers who sell mostly direct to consumers will meet next week to decide whether they have enough in common to form a new Manitoba farm organization. A good turnout for the meeting Nov. 24 is expected, but it remains to be seen whether they can unify under an umbrella organization, one of the organizers