Recent fires in Saskatchewan and Alberta have created a great deal of damage for grain and livestock operations, as well as rural homeowners. As communities and individuals rebuild, the costs beyond the infrastructure and lives lost eventually lead to the soil. Pastures and eroded fields need special consideration after a fire.  |  William DeKay photo

Prairie soil after a fire


Some mainstream news outlets tend to sensationalize their coverage of prairie wildfires by emphasizing how many “acres of land were destroyed,” leaving Canadians with the impression that the land is gone. Grassland specialists such as Barry Adams counter those reports by explaining that fire cannot destroy land. “But it can destroy peoples lives,” said Adams, […] Read more

Deb Campbell of Agronomy Advantage describes the plot trials at the centre using different planting rate and nutrient treatments. She says the research aims to figure out how to grow more profitable canola in Ontario.  |  John Greig photo

Ontario research aims to make canola profitable

Ontario growers now have a Canola Learning Centre to help them overcome some of the problems with growing profitable canola. Canola is the largest crop grown in Canada, overtaking wheat this year, but in Ontario acres have been decreasing. Canola acres have declined by about a third in the past five years to 40,000 acres. […] Read more

SaskWheat chair Bill Gehl says the main message that we’re trying to get across is to make sure you follow label directions.
 | File photo

Use caution with pre-harvest applications

Saskatchewan’s provincial wheat commission is reminding farmers to follow label directions when applying desiccants or weed control products to standing crops this fall. It’s not a new message, says SaskWheat chair Bill Gehl, but it’s one that needs to be repeated to ensure producers are using the products correctly and not negatively affecting the quality […] Read more

Manitoba Agriculture forage specialist Jane Thornton, right, says weevil damage is already showing up in some fields.  |  Robert Arnason photo

Weevils threaten alfalfa crop

Prairie growers should be checking their alfalfa fields for alfalfa weevils as soon as possible, say forage experts in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. If weevil larvae numbers are high, the alfalfa crop should be cut immediately, weather permitting. If that’s not possible, growers should consider a pesticide application. “There are many alfalfa fields where if it’s […] Read more

A new Agriculture Canada study suggests tight canola rotations do not provide better returns than longer and more diverse rotations. 
| File photo

Continuous canola not as profitable as farmers might think

LACOMBE, Alta. — A new Agriculture Canada study suggests tight canola rotations do not provide better returns than longer and more diverse rotations. “People say they have to grow continuous canola because they are getting the highest net returns,” Neil Harker, an Agriculture Canada research scientist said during a presentation at Murray Hartman’s ScienceOrama in […] Read more

Common mullein is not well known to prairie farmers, but it is a serious pest and part of Alberta’s noxious weed list.  |   USDA photo

Apps help identify invasive weeds

In March David Andrews, a cattle rancher from Irricana, Alta, took photos of an unusual weed on pastureland near his farm. Andrews suspected that the two-metre-tall weed was palmer amaranth, a weed found in most American states but not in Western Canada, yet. Weed experts in Alberta and Arkansas looked at the photos and concluded […] Read more

Researchers examine soil aggregates, which are groups of soil particles that bind together, to develop a soil health test.  Spaces within and between aggregates provide pores and pathways for air and water to move.  |  File photo

Stop and smell the dirt

University of Alberta researchers develop a soil heatlh test by evaluating the composition of the soil

Most farmers and gardeners recognize healthy soil. It has a certain look and smell and likely feels softer than poorly conditioned soil. That sense of quality is mostly based on experience and scientists have struggled to measure the traits of healthy soil — until now. Researchers at the University of Alberta have developed a test […] Read more

Farmers who take images with a camera on a drone can use the Field-Edge Plant Population Analysis program to produce maps that pinpoint problem areas.  |  Sentera photo

Field edge analysis platform delivers the news fast

Sentera’s new software allows growers to send their drones out 
to gather photos, determine trouble spots and take action quickly

Farmers who access early warning data on poor emergence have the opportunity to spray out or rip up those tardy acres for replanting or go in with remedial nutrition to rescue them. The key is to know as soon as possible after emergence if you need to take such action. One week too late can […] Read more

Alberta Agriculture weed researcher Chris Neeser is learning how to use drone technology to scout for weeds and disease.  |  File photo

Drones spit out facts, not answers

LACOMBE, Alta. — Chris Neeser has been studying drones for Alberta Agriculture since 2014 to gauge the usefulness of current technology in agricultural applications. “We examined the usefulness of imagery from UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) for the purpose of weed and disease forecasting, and hopefully the process might answer some of the questions in case […] Read more

Growing canola every second year is the dominant rotation in many parts of Western Canada.  |  File photo

Disease forces longer canola rotations in Manitoba

Widespread blackleg is reducing yields in south-central Manitoba and making producers rethink their crop choices

DAUPHIN, Man. — Farmers in south-central Manitoba are backing away from canola because blackleg is curbing yields and cutting into profits. Canola yields of 45, 50 or 55 bushels per acre have become normal in many parts of the Prairies, but growers in pockets of southern Manitoba are struggling to achieve those targets. “They’ve moved […] Read more