GFM Network News


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

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


Producers may be reluctant at losing a productive year for the sake of a green manure.

Pass the mustard?

Mustard green manures might be the next tool in the tool box against disease and soil degradation in potatoes

It might be time to add a little spice to the potato rotation. Researchers from Washington State University have been planting mustard green manures in the year preceding a potato crop, a strategy some Manitoba agronomists believe might protect the crop and improve soil health. Many of the arguments for green manures will sound familiar

The University of Manitoba’s Martin Entz, an agriculture professor and cropping systems specialist, suspects reduced tillage and organic production may not be mutually exclusive.

Can organic no till work in the field?

Environmental benefit is part of organic market value, but organic weed management usually means tillage, commonly considered a black mark for soil health. Is there a middle ground?

Hairy vetch may be the key to reducing tillage in organic farming, at least in the short term. Martin Entz, a professor and agriculture systems expert from the University of Manitoba has been looking at mulches for organic weed suppression, rather than the tillage typically used. “We found that when we used the right mulch,

Tour attendees kneel to get a better look at the mix during the Aug. 4 tour focusing on green manure at Carnegie Farms north of Brandon.

The making of a green manure mix

Grain-only operation one of several tours organized by the Manitoba Organic Alliance

For organic grain farmers without livestock such as Carnegie Farms north of Brandon, green manure has become a mainstay for nutrient management. Visitors to the fully organic operation’s field day Aug. 4 took in two green manure mixes, ranging from peas, beans, oats and buckwheat to a field with all of the above, plus kale,


Ian and Linda Grossart run a nearly closed-system organic farm.

New study investigates success of local organic farm

Biology professor from Brandon expects to learn a lot from closed-system operation

A biology professor from Brandon is going into the field, literally, to study how operators of a small organic farm in southern Manitoba make it work. Terence McGonigle, from Brandon University, became interested in Howpark Farms, a certified organic operation in the Brandon Hills, when he heard the owners Ian and Linda Grossart operate profitably

Michelle Carkner is an M.Sc. candidate in the University of Manitoba’s department of plant 
science conducting soybean varietal trials under organic production.

Evaluating soybean varieties for suitability in organic production systems

Organic growers in Manitoba have limited options right now

At $25 a bushel, organic soybeans could be a highly lucrative crop for organic farmers. But right now that market is out of reach for most due to the limited number of varieties suitable for organic production systems. A student researcher at the University of Manitoba is hoping to change that. She is evaluating conventional

Don Flaten speaks about nitrogen during a recent field tour at the National Centre for Livestock and the Environment.

Too early to alter nitrogen guidelines

Solid manure applications may actually release more nitrogen over time, not less

The questions, how much nitrogen was applied and how much is available don’t have the same answer. Seven crops into a long-term study on nutrient management at the National Centre for Livestock and the Environment, researchers have found that current provincial guidelines for estimating nitrogen availability may not reflect reality when it comes using solid


Mixed crop and livestock farming can be good for the soil.

Conservation and livestock can be a good mix

While intensive livestock production can cause waste and nutrients to pile up, 
mixed farms are better able to recycle nutrients

When Ian Grossart harvests alfalfa on his farm in southwestern Manitoba, he knows where most of the nutrients he’s just removed are going to end up — back on his land. “With the cattle we compost all of our own manure, so that becomes a big part of our fertility program,” he said. “And because

Universal rotation principles uniquely applied to each farm

The view from Northern Blossom Farms - Part 2

This is the second instalment of a series of letters from Gary Martens, who is an instructor in plant science with the University of Manitoba. His ‘nano’ experimental farm is located near Kleefield, Man.  First I will lay out the principles by which I planned the crop rotation. These principles are derived from a long-term understanding