GFM Network News

Take a systematic approach to improving the ecosystems beneath your feet.

There’s a teeming world of diversity and complexity in your field’s soil

This soil ecologist says six principles can be applied to improve soil health

Soil is more than just dirt, a place where plants put down roots to grow seeds. It’s a complex ecology, teeming with infinite varieties of flora, fauna, microbes and minerals that provide both the raw materials and machinery to build crops and livestock. It’s a factory floor with a lot of moving parts and we’re


Leaving lighter footprints

An upcoming study of the environmental footprint of the Canadian hog industry could shed new light on an important question

Just how big is the environmental footprint of the Canadian pork industry? There are a lot of opinions but fewer facts when it comes time to try to answer that question. Filling in those blanks is the subject of an upcoming multi-year study by Mario Tenuta, a professor of applied soil ecology at the University

Adding more nitrogen in crop, instead of in the fall or spring before planting, is one way to use nitrogen more efficiently. The 4R tour visited Tyler Russell’s cornfield near Carman where about 60 pounds of nitrogen was applied at the V4 stage. Depending on the crop, more will be applied just before tasselling.

Better nitrogen efficiency, now and in the future

The June 28 4R nitrogen stewardship tour looked at current research and tools that could be coming in the future

Increasing yields while applying the same or less nitrogen is good for farmers and the environment. It also sums up the goal of the 4R stewardship program. The four Rs refer to applying nitrogen to crops using the right source and rate at the right time and right place. “That’s our big challenge,” University of

Agronomists, industry and government representatives attend the latest 4R Nutrient Stewardship training workshop in Brandon, Man., Feb. 23.

4R Nutrient Stewardship taking more to the web

The 4R Nutrient Stewardship initiative has expanded training modules, 
accreditation and data logging online

Manitoba’s 4R Nutrient Stewardship is heading online. The program, announced in 2013, is a shared undertaking by the Canadian Fertilizer Institute, Manitoba government and the Keystone Agricultural Producers. It aims to balance environmental and agricultural interests. Four years later, the initiative has expanded to encompass education and tracking online. Initially packaged exclusively through day-long accreditation workshops,

Nitrogen use is going to get a lot more sophisticated in the coming years.

High-tech fertilizers offer great promise

More expensive fertilizer likely cheap compared to future N20 pricing

The fertilizers farmers use will one day be manufactured from algae or hydrogen fuel, not natural gas, and they’ll be ‘SMARTer’ too, said a speaker at St. Jean Farm Days last week. These will be long-lasting sensor-based nano fertilizers, not likely to be nearly as easy to handle as current products, and which may reside

Mario Tenuta, professor of applied soil ecology at the University of Manitoba predicts, among other things, that anhydrous ammonia and urea — popular nitrogen fertilizers — will be banned because they produce too much nitrous oxide — a powerful greenhouse gas.

In the battle to mitigate global warming farmers’ nitrogen use will be scrutinized

But soil scientist Mario Tenuta says there are things farmers can do to help themselves

The fight to control global warning will bring about big changes in how Manitoba farmers farm, says Mario Tenuta, professor of applied soil ecology and chair and adviser of the B.Sc. Agroecology Program at the University of Manitoba. “I predict eventually they will outlaw anhydrous ammonia and urea and replace it with high-efficiency (nitrogen) fertilizer,”

University of Manitoba soil scientist Mario Tenuta speaking about nitrogen uptake during a 4R nutrient management tour at Kelburn Farm July 2, 2014.

Take a 4R nutrient management farm demonstration tour

Learn more about using the right source of fertilizer and applying it 
at the right time, at the right rate and in the right place

Farmers can learn about getting more bang for their fertilizer buck while protecting the environment at 4R nutrient management farm demonstration tours near MacGregor, Manitou and Morris July 6, 7 and 8, respectively. “The focus will be on wheat and soybeans,” Amanda Giamber­ardinon, Fertilizer Canada’s manager of 4R Nutrient Stewardship, said in an interview June

Mario Tenuta holds up a jar containing soybean roots with nematodes for inspection at the Ian N. Morrison research farm near Carman.

Soybean cyst nematode co-evolved with crop

They are tiny world travellers and Manitoba’s Red River Valley could be 
the next stop on the soybean cyst nematode’s global tour

In the middle of the Ian N. Morrison research farm near Carman, an unlikely scene is unfolding as farmers and agronomists crowd around what looks like an old jam jar. “Careful, we don’t want this to break,” Mario Tenuta stresses, with a bit of a chuckle. But what’s inside the tightly sealed jar is no

Bruce Berry of Almost Urban Vegetables uses composted manure to power his plants.

Winter no barrier to composting

Manure composting has many benefits, including concentrated nutrients, 
reduced volume, no smell and easy transport

Like any recipe, making a good composted manure requires the right ingredients, a proper mixer and some heat. “There are a lot of misconceptions as to what composting actually is, some think that if you have a pile of manure it’s called composting, it really isn’t,” said Mario Tenuta. “So we want to talk to

 Soybean plant with nematode-filled cysts.

On the lookout for soybean cyst nematodes

But make no mistake, this new destructive pest is coming and farmers 
can learn more about it July 22 at the SMART Soybean Day in Carman

Soybean cyst nematodes haven’t been found in Manitoba yet. That’s the good news. The bad news is it’s only a matter of time until they are, says University of Manitoba soil scientist Mario Tenuta. But early detection will help farmers manage it. The search for the small, soil-borne, worm-like parasites that can dramatically reduce soybean