Prairie farming and agriculture feel very different as we roll into 2020 from the place we were at the beginning of 2010. But what is that difference? | File photo

Decade began with the wheat board and ended in chaos

We roared into the 2010s raging about the Canadian Wheat Board as we rode atop a raging commodity bull market. We stumble out of 2019 savaged by dreadful weather, struggles to break even and a suddenly harsh world environment. And in the midst of it all, we saw farmers make some great profits, suffer some […] Read more

Farmers must check that science against the truth of what goes on in their own fields, says a father-son agronomic duo. | File photo

Producers urged to test research results on their own farms

A farmer and a scientist say academic research can be disconnected from reality, often producing data that’s hard to duplicate in field conditions

Agricultural research has offered farmers much knowledge and a glimpse of what might be possible on their land. But farmers must check that science against the truth of what goes on in their own fields, says a father-son agronomic duo. “If I had based decisions on a popular piece of science or one year’s experience, […] Read more

Farmers facing a winter of stored grain management are getting reacquainted with the math, the science, the handling and the decision-making tough grain requires.
 | File photo

Damp grain = tough decisions

Farmers facing a winter of stored grain management are getting reacquainted with the math, the science, the handling and the decision-making tough grain requires. It’s something farmers will have to do until it’s all dried down or moved, but the situation should also goad them to think of how to avoid dealing with too-moist grain […] Read more


No matter where I have gone this fall and winter, I’ve picked up a constant murmur of anxiety and worry from the farmers I talk with. 
| File photo

Stress, anxiety can result in poor decision-making, risk

How much value-at-risk (VaR) is your farm carrying this winter? And what’s the chief cause of that risk? With so much of this year’s crop in poor condition and in perilous situations, the average prairie farm’s revenues could swing by tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on how well those crops are treated […] Read more

More farmers are starting to consider intercropping, such as this combination of oats and peas, but they say risk management programs aren’t designed to accommodate the practice.  |  File photo

Farm program update urged for intercropping

Farmers see lots of potential in intercropping but are being held back by non-agronomic factors, two farmers told the Canola Discovery Forum. “I can’t cover my risk on that crop,” said Cadillac, Sask., farmer and agronomist Troy LaForge. “Risk management programs need to catch up with the times.” Rosenort, Man., farmer Shane Friesen said commercial […] Read more


Volunteer canola is going to be one of the weed problems facing prairie producers next spring.  |  Michael Raine photo

Problem weeds could make inroads next year

Herbicide resistance is spreading and intensifying, so scouting is a concern now

The 2020 growing season looks great — for weeds. For farmers, it’s going to be a challenge, with the terrible harvesting conditions stopping much weed control and prevention. “A lot of fall work … didn’t happen,” Ian Epp, a Canola Council of Canada weed specialist, said during the Canola Discovery Forum. “We’ve had a number […] Read more

A recent study has found that neonic insecticides show up in wetlands at much lower levels than was previously thought.  |  file photo

Wetland data may point to lower neonic risk

Canola growers group says no significant risk was found when products are used on canola

As the Pest Management Regulatory Agency ponders the future of two key canola chemical treatments, it has real-world data to look at. That’s a big improvement on the model-based assumptions that led PMRA in 2018 to recommend banning the neonicotinoids, says the Canadian Canola Growers Association. “We found that these chemistries show up in wetlands […] Read more

Researchers use small plots to show how different inputs, management and rotations affect different crops, but a retired oilseed specialist wonders how realistic those results are when there are so many grounds on which they could be skewed.  |  File photo

Farmers question validity of small plot trials

Some farmers are skeptical about the relevance of small plot tests to full-sized farming fields. That skepticism makes sense, thinks Murray Hartman, because lots about small plot testing is questionable and results dubious. “There are a lot of shortcomings of making sense of rotations,” Hartman, a recently retired Alberta Agriculture oilseeds specialist, said at the […] Read more


Resist the urge to trash talk other parts of agriculture

I once rescued a car from a mechanic who was pushing much unnecessary “repair” work. The ethical mechanic I took it to next, recommended by locals, found what needed fixing, fixed it, and gave me my car back for a fraction of what the other guy had proposed. “We don’t talk-down our competition here,” he […] Read more

Farm group focuses on climate change

Climate change isn’t an issue the National Farmers Union hates talking about. In fact, climate took centre stage at the NFU’s 50th anniversary convention. Many of its members see fighting climate change as a key focus for the organization now and for the foreseeable future. It’s something that has brought new members and heightened commitment […] Read more