Technology brings the world to your office

With Google Earth, visit the whole planet from the comfort of your home

In my youth we pounded a lot of pavement both summer and winter. Winter was for short courses and other extension events and summer was for research — soil fertility and drilling holes all over for soil salinity work.

It is my great pleasure to have driven every mile of every Saskatchewan highway in the ag area. The last piece to fill in was the road from Big Beaver to Bengough, Sask. I made a special trip from Regina just to drive that piece and fill in the list.

But now much of the travel is via Google Earth. When a news item comes up it is easy to just “fly over” the area and have a look around. With Google’s “street view” one can drive down the streets of surprising places.

This winter, colleagues at U of S were working on a project at Ile-a-la-Crosse in northern Sask. To my amazement, Google had already been there and driven the streets so I landed and had a good look around. It’s a pleasant little place with neat houses and some good public buildings. That town celebrated its 200th anniversary in 1976.

My hometown of Milden only had its 100th in 2011; we were latecomers.

Speaking of Milden, while driving around Jolly Olde England I stumbled on Mildenhall — an RAF town about 100 km northeast of London. Made me wonder if the Milden name really came from Mills and Bryden — two early residents of Milden.

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Reader thanks

Many thanks to readers who have ordered a copy of my book and also offered kind comments. It is great encouragement and an incentive for me to look up where you come from. The Saskatchewan ones I know without looking up but I’ve made some interesting additional contacts from South Dakota, Caledon and Ancaster, Ontario, Grunthal and Nesbitt, Manitoba. Many of the Alberta places I have been but Rimbey was new — a grand little town southwest of Edmonton with a delightful countryside.

Any place I do not recognize is cause for a trip via Google Earth and a drop down to see the town and major roads that are available. It is a great learning experience and a great joy.

One highlight was a kind note and book order from Springcrest Farm on Old West Saanich Road north of Victoria, B.C. I took a drive down the road then went to CANSIS website and looked up the soils. When I emailed Jan, the farm owner, he said to take a drive south and I would see him bouncing along on his John Deere tractor. I did. Sure enough there he was.

The list goes on and in each case where I encounter an unfamiliar area, Google Earth lets me take a look and CANSIS lets me check out the soils. It is indeed a joy. When I become too old to learn it is time to be planted.

My most sincere thanks to the many readers I have met via their letters, notes and book orders.

If any reader has not had a chance to check out Google Earth be sure to give it a try. The basic version is a free download and it provides hours of fun and learning.

About the author

Columnist

Les Henry

J.L.(Les) Henry is a former professor and extension specialist at the University of Saskatchewan. He farms at Dundurn, Sask. He recently finished a second printing of “Henry’s Handbook of Soil and Water,” a book that mixes the basics and practical aspects of soil, fertilizer and farming. Les will cover the shipping and GST for “Grainews” readers. Simply send a cheque for $50 to Henry Perspectives, 143 Tucker Cres., Saskatoon, Sask., S7H 3H7, and he will dispatch a signed book.

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