Rethinking Success: Soil, profit and regenerative farming

Traditionally, farmers have correlated yield to success. That is to say, on a field by field basis, yield is often the primary determining factor used to judge whether a crop was successful or not.  And for good reason. To begin with, yield is fairly easy to measure (e.g. bushels/acre) and can be calculated during harvest. …

The Rise of the Middle Class Farmer: The Inception of Western Canadian Agriculture

In 1946, just after WWII, Canada signed a contract to deliver 600 million bushels of wheat to a war-weary UK within 4 years. Despite the huge quantities of grain needed, Canada was able to meet the demand, largely because of the massive grain reserves the country developed during WW2 — grain that was originally produced …

Soil as an Ecosystem

Healthy ecosystems produce healthy organisms. It’s really that simple. From gardeners to agriculturalists, it’s becoming increasingly important to understand the role of the soil microbiome in relation to soil health and land rejuvenation. Traditionally, farmers tend to disassociate their target crop from land that it is grown on, focusing on production processes which produce immediate …

Risk, Reward and Regenerative Farming

In business, risk is often associated with reward. The general idea being the greater the risk, the greater the return.  In agriculture, this is generally taken to mean that by increasing your input costs (i.e. fertilizers, herbicides, irrigation, etc.,), your yields, and thus your profits, will increase correspondingly — simply put, the more you spend …

In the Wake of the Better Farming Train

Probably forty per cent of settlers who go on our pioneer farms have no knowledge of agriculture in any country, let alone prairie agriculture, and many make distressing and expensive mistakes largely for want of some person to confer with and advise them.     – W.R. Motherwell in 1913  Way back, in 1914, when twenty horse power …

On Cold-Pressed Canola Oil

Cold-pressed canola oil is to regular canola oil as extra virgin olive oil is to regular olive oil. Except, it’s healthier, tastier, more sustainable and just all around better. Okay, there is a clear bias here. But that seems only right and fair as we are a Canadian blog and most farms in our country …

Five Principles for Soil Restoration: Revitalizing the Carbon Cycle

Just a few generations ago, when the prairies were first broken, pioneering farmers were able to produce good yielding, high protein crops without the addition of synthetic fertilizers. However, years of conventional farming practices (e.g. monocropping, heavy tillage, etc.) have interrupted natural regenerative processes (e.g. carbon, nitrogen and water cycles) which restores soil fertility.  As …

Cover Crop Cocktails

As cover-cropping is becoming more and more popular, the idea of a cover crop cocktail has been attracting more and more attention on both farms and gardens. While many cocktails are custom mixes – designed by growers to perform a specific function(s) – the practice refers to any seed mix that contains three or more …

On Micronutrients: Liebig’s Law

It’s called Liebig’s barrel. The contents of the barrel represent a crop’s yield potential, while each wooden slat represent a different nutrient required by the plant. The barrel is meant as a visual representation of Liebig’s Law of the minimum – a crucial concept when calculating the nutrient needs and yield potential of any field …

Soil Formation on the Prairies

Across the great American plains, where the seasons are stark and natural grasslands still dot the prairie, the land is mostly covered in the rich dark loam known as chernozemic soil which have developed since the glaciers receded a few millennia ago.    There are five key factors that determine the type of soil that is …