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Healthy soil is the foundation of thriving, sustainable grain production. Soil health management is crucial for healthy crop development and also reduces erosion, improves nutrient cycling and maximizes water infiltration. Bettering soil health can even help farmers lower their input costs. With this in mind, agribusinesses and agronomists alike work to provide farmers with the soil knowledge, data and equipment they need to cultivate long-term resiliency.

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If you thought being the new kid in school was a lot of pressure, try being the new research chair at a place of higher learning. With the support of industry groups, three agricultural chairs recently appointed by western educational institutions are tasked with prioritizing and planning research efforts. As they take a seat at the farm research table, they aim to contribute to the betterment of the Prairie grain industry.

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Research plots dot the Prairie landscape and provide farmers a glimpse of what may come from new crop varieties in yield, disease resistance, standability and more. About the size of a pickup truck and just as numerous across Alberta, these plots are an inescapable component of agricultural research. However, dimensions and conditions continually leave something to be desired. Highly manicured and cared for by research scientists in specialized environments, the plots don’t simulate real life and that’s a real problem for farmers who farm sections, not square centimetres.

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The tight farm financial picture that has evolved over the last three crop years has many farmers adjusting capital, operational and agronomic practices. The aim is to push up the profit margin while cutting costs. GrainsWest spoke with three agricultural advisors about such dollar-saving tactics.

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The websites of specialty fertilizer companies now often resemble a love letter to the periodic table of elements. Boron, zinc, manganese, oh my! Each shiny product is designed to sell farmers a nutrient they either didn’t know they needed or simply cannot live without.

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Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC), Alberta Barley, Alberta Pulse Growers and Alberta Canola Producers have teamed up
with the university and Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) to fund positions in agricultural entomology, soil health and a third chair now in development, the details of which have not been announced. Once candidates are hired, matching funding will be sought from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

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