Farmers who identify SMART goals, such as improving fertilizer applications, can then focus their entire operation on what’s important for the business.  |  File photo

Put your data to work by identifying SMART goals

Modern technologies open an exciting challenge for today’s farmers. Data is being collected across every acre for every operation. Using your data and committing to SMART goals now can result in increased profits. I wrote a couple of columns last year around this time about planning for last year’s crop. They involved preparing a cost […] Read more

Yellow leaves mix with the green in a wheat crop damaged by residual herbicide presence.  |  Thom Weir photo

Watch for crop damage when using residual controls

I am sometimes asked to look at cereal crops in the spring that have been seeded on fields treated with burn-off herbicides containing residual products such as florasulam and metsulfuron. These products are often added to a glyphosate product to improve control of dandelions, narrow-leafed hawk’s beard and wild buckwheat and provide up to three […] Read more

Producers planning to make the best use of their fertilizer inputs this coming spring should take advantage of all the tools available to them and look to maximize margins.  |  File photo

Many tools available to help with soil sampling for seeding

I have to apologize for the length of time between columns this year. I have had some health issues but am now on the road to recovery so hopefully you can expect more regular articles in the future. I have, over the years, written a number of pieces on the importance of soil testing. In […] Read more


Alternaria seems to affect some canola hybrids after frost.  |  Thom Weir photo

How to evaluate frost damage on various crops

Temperatures dipped below -4 C at various weather station locations in Western Canada last week. We shouldn’t be surprised because the average first killing frost occurs in the second week of September for most of the Prairies. Many crops will have missed most of the damage, but some will still be in the susceptible stage. […] Read more

Removing crop residue can bring in cash but can also remove nutrients from the soil.  |  File photo

Factors to weigh when debating whether to bale straw

Every drought, livestock operators increase their interest in buying, or harvesting and feeding straw. For grain producers, collecting straw means an additional harvest from otherwise droughty crops. This brings up questions: What is the value of the straw? What nutrients are removed with the straw? Is all straw the same? Will baling and removing the […] Read more


Early seeding usually results in maximum yields for most crops, but there are risks.  |  Mike sturk photo

Risks and benefits of early seeding

Crops can tolerate spring frost better than early fall frost. To offset the cold stress associated with early seeding, follow these best management practices:

Weather changes at this time of year make it difficult to predict when growers will be on the land. Growers are starting to seed as I write this in mid-April, and in the extreme south of Alberta, they have already wrapped up. I checked soil temperatures April 20 and found that they are already starting […] Read more

Farmers can hear a confusing array of information and claims at trade shows. They can protect themselves with proper knowledge.  |  File photo

Don’t believe hype unless it’s backed by facts

I had never realized until this winter’s farm shows that there were so many ways to optimize, synergize, maximize, energize and revitalize my soil. Those seemed to be the buzz words at many of the booths I visited. However, I was also disturbed that the companies promoting these products were unable to show me data […] Read more

Is data the next disruptive force in the world food supply?

This is the first of a two-part column that deals with data use in agriculture. The second part will appear next week. Disruptive technology is a buzzword that is frequently thrown around in the high tech world these days. It is technology that helps create a new market and eventually disrupts an existing market, displacing […] Read more


Canola traditionally comes with high fungicide costs. Can variable rate fungicide applications save farmers money?  |  File photo

Variable rate fungicide effective in some cases

Many growers have asked me lately about variable rate fungicide applications. They want to know how much it will save them compared to single rates of application. It has been an interesting topic because growers are trying to make the most from their input dollars. One of the key things that growers need to know […] Read more