The author argues that we will not be able to sustain our food production if our soils continue to be degraded at the current rate.  |  File photo

Start planting the seed about the importance of soil health

What’s the big deal about soil? It’s all over the place. And anyway, it only affects farmers, right? That might be your first reaction upon seeing the title of this article. That’s because we really don’t talk much about soil, one of our most precious resources. I want to change that. Of course, soil is […] Read more

Over the last three to five years, soil health has become a major point of discussion in North American agriculture. | File photo

General Mills program takes aim at soil health

General Mills wants to change the world, through better soil health. This morning the maker of Cheerios and Nature Valley granola bars, announced plans to promote regenerative agriculture in North America and around the world. The company plans to partner with organic and conventional farmers to increase the adoption of cover crops, diverse crop rotations, […] Read more

Forages can enhance soil by enhancing energy capture, investing in ecosystems and enhancing recycling.  |  File photo

Soil health can be a difficult term to pin down

Soil fertility is more than just health; it also encompasses yield, climate regulation, water filtration and biodiversity


Soil health is not a scientific term. It conjures imagery of human wellness but the term is imprecise and ambiguous. So says Henry Janzen, well-known Agriculture Canada research scientist in the fields of carbon, nitrogen and sulfur cycling, greenhouse gas emissions and soil carbon sequestration. Soil health is context dependent, he told those participating in […] Read more


 Tannis Axten builds a fresh, living tea for injection into the seedrow from compost placed into 500 gallons of water and bubbled with an air pump.  |  Axten Farm photo

Compost tea makes soil more active

Southeastern Saskatchewan farmers use enhanced biology to improve their crops through a healthy approach to dirt

Southeastern Saskatchewan farmers use enhanced biology to improve their crops through a healthy approach to dirt

Derek and Tannis Axten apply compost tea soil inoculant with a liquid kit on their 60-foot drill to fast track soil regeneration at a broad acre scale. The couple work a 6,000-acre family farm with two-thirds of its land base in Minton, Sask., and the rest near Milestone, Sask. They intercrop and use cover crops […] Read more

Farm couple Cody Straza and Allison Squires will be integrating cattle onto their farm next year to improve the soil. |  Jeremy Simes photo

Bringing in livestock key to rebuilding soil

More farmers are starting to use livestock to help regenerate soils, which can reduce inputs and produce higher yields down the road. They spoke about their livestock integration plans during the Western Canada Conference on Soil Health and Grazing held in Edmonton Dec. 5-7. Cody Straza and Allison Squires have an organic grain farm near […] 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