This field of dryland canola near Turin, Alta., is showing signs of heat blast.  |  Barb Glen photo

Southern Alberta canola needs relief from heat

Crop walk reveals uneven maturity, but farmers say their dryland crops look better this year than they did last year

TURIN, Alta. — Variable maturity levels appear to be a common problem in southern Alberta canola fields lacking irrigation. Autumn Barnes, agronomy specialist with the Canola Council of Canada, said she is seeing quite a few crops with that problem in her areas south of the Trans-Canada Highway. “A lot of variable emergence issues this […] Read more

Ed Bork, a University of Alberta range ecologist, says there is more to climate change than the burning of fossil fuels. Conversion of grassland into crop production is also a factor.  |  Barb Glen photo

Grassland traps carbon but measurement tricky

LUNDBRECK, Alta. — There are various incentives in Canada and the world to encourage new initiatives for carbon sequestration and offset greenhouse gas production. Rewards for already doing those things, by maintaining healthy perennial grassland, for example, are much harder to come by. Ed Bork, a University of Alberta range ecologist, wants to change that. […] Read more

A bed of irises begins to bloom at  Sarah Adams’ albertagirlacres near Vulcan, Alta. They’ll soon find their way into bouquets for sale. | Barb Glen photo

Alberta woman enters cut flower business

Sarah Adams of Vulcan gets an early start by foraging for prairie flowers and crops that can be used to make bouquets

VULCAN, Alta. — There’s an odd thing about Sarah Adams’ new fresh-cut flower farm: the blossoms are few. Not to worry, though. Her 5.5-acre farm southeast of Vulcan, albertagirlacres, has a wide variety of flowers that will bloom, all of them planted this spring. In mid-June, the nascent plants were in various states of early […] Read more

Government approval eludes poppy production projects

Poppies can grow on a commercial level in southern Alberta, but will they? Glen Metzler of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients Lab (API) is beginning to wonder. He and others have been involved in a project since 2007 to grow poppy seed in the province, initially for culinary use. At present all poppy seed must be imported. […] Read more

Wild oat control in cereals is especially critical because it can significantly diminish yields.
 | File photo

Wild oat resistance persists

Wild and free: that’s beginning to describe wild oats rather well. The “wild” is a given, right in the name, and the “free” is embodied in the weeds’ freedom from in-crop herbicide harm. “We have wild oat seed lots that can have blanket resistance to both Group 1s and Group 2s, meaning they’re resistant to […] Read more

Nolan Kowalchuk tests a smartphone application called Xarvio Weed Scout at a field day June 20. |  Barb Glen photo

App makes instant weed ID possible

It’s facial recognition software for weeds. That’s one way Brent Nicol, digital farming specialist for Bayer CropScience, describes Xarvio Weed Scout, an app that identifies weeds. He helped farmers test it June 20-21 during the Farming Smarter field school in Lethbridge. “This is the second year we’ve been up and running,” Nicol said. “It’s still […] Read more

It costs an average of $2.10 to produce a dozen eggs in enriched housing, compared to $1.93 in conventional housing. Figures aren’t available for free-run operations.  |  File photo

Egg producers question feasibility of free-run

Consumers pressure restaurants and food companies to make the practice mandatory, but who will pay the extra costs?

A steady stream of restaurant and food companies proclaim intentions to use eggs only from free-run operations in the future, but egg producers wonder who is willing to pay the cost of more expensive production methods. Some barns have already moved to systems with enriched housing, defined as larger cages with nesting areas, dust baths […] Read more

A survey conducted by Lethbridge College students found that older respondents were more opposed to the use of growth hormones in cattle than were younger people.  |  File photo

Alta. survey finds unease with growth hormones

College students conducted the survey in Lethbridge, where residents are very familiar with the cattle industry

In a city that lies at the heart of Canada’s intensive livestock operations, it may not be surprising that most Lethbridge respondents to a survey think farmers and ranchers take care of the environment, use water responsibly and treat livestock humanely. But there is one thing they don’t like: the use of growth hormones in […] Read more

First Nations concerned about grassland loss

Residents of the Blood Reserve in southern Alta. worry about farming practices conducted on their land by non-natives

STANDOFF, Alta. — The people of the Blood Reserve hold cultural and spiritual connections to the land in Alberta’s southwest. Some are worried that non-native farmers issued permits to farm some of the reserve’s 200,000 cultivated acres are adversely affecting the health of that land. They also fear for the future of the other approximately […] Read more

Ticks can cause anemia in cattle and spread a variety of diseases.  |  Jeannette Greaves photo

Timely treatments key to tick control

The best time to treat cattle might occur after they are already out on pasture, requiring another trip through the chute

The mere mention of ticks seems to give people a case of the creepy-crawlies. The bite itself is nasty but some ticks can also transmit disease, notably Lyme disease. “Ticks put the fear of God into people for some reason,” said Dr. Roy Lewis, an Alberta-based veterinarian. But ticks are also an issue for cattle […] Read more