GFM Network News


Shown here is a FlySask air photo of subject land taken about 2008. That was a drier period and shows nice flat land with no obstructions and perfect for farming as a half section unit. What we see in the photo fits with the soil survey and assessment data (i.e., no sloughs). The soil survey was done in the 1960s when it was dry.

Les Henry: To own a piece of ground

How to learn about a piece of ground before you see it

To own a piece of ground, To scratch it with a hoe, To plant seeds and watch the renewal of life, This is the commonest delight of the race, The most satisfactory thing a person can do. Charles Dudley Warner (1829-1900) That piece is the introduction to Chapter 4 of Henry’s Handbook. I do not […] Read more

What we did not  realize  was  canola  had  the  rooting and uptake ability to suck the soil P to very low values.  
A few years of big yields with big N and big water and P becomes the limiting factor.

Les Henry: A recipe for 65 bushels per acre of canola

Some lessons learned many years later

When cleaning visuals from talks of years gone by, I stumbled on one from 1978 — the year canola was born. It showed what it took to produce 65 bushels per acre of canola in garden patch agriculture (i.e., small plots). In 1978, the highest average RM yield of canola in Saskatchewan was 29 bushels […] Read more



Lime improves alfalfa crop in Peace River Country. This photo was taken from Farming Acid Soils in Alberta and Northeast British Columbia by P.B. Hoyt, M. Nyborg and D.C. Penney.


Les Henry: Acid soils. A wake-up call

At the farm level, soil test, soil test, soil test

This piece came about because of a technical session I attended at scientific meetings in Saskatoon in July 2019. Rick Engel of Montana State University presented a paper showing soils on the Highwood Bench near Fort Benton, Mont., that had become so acidic crops like lentils and sunflowers would barely grow. The soils were at […] Read more


Les Henry: Weather and climate – more actual data

Climate data questions current frenzy about global warming crisis

Regular readers will recall my earlier column that provided annual and monthly temperature for Swift Current, Sask., from a complete record back to 1886. The data was compliments of a long line of dedicated scientists at the Swift Current Federal Ag Research Station. In this piece, we will expand the data to two other sites […] Read more

Les Henry: Soil salinity and tile drainage

Can investing in tile drainage make your Prairie soil less saline and more profitable?

The idea for this subject came from a recent phone call from a farmer in west-central Saskatchewan. He was considering the purchase of a piece of land that was priced below recent sales but did have salinity problems. He was wondering about the feasibility of tile drainage to fix the problem and make the land […] Read more


This photo was taken July 25,2017. It is a good quarter section that has changed hands and belongs to an absentee owner. It was “planted down,” and the result a few years later was a decent stand of bromegrass. This looked like a fair seed crop. But it was later baled as a hay crop.

Les Henry: Fertilizing for forage yields

For higher grass yields, fertilize it like a crop

We often hear “plant it down” when a field is not performing well for annual crops. That may mean simply planting some grass and accepting hay yields determined by the moisture in a given year. It is not uncommon for such stands to perform poorly and then be utilized as pasture. There are many situations […] Read more

Les Henry: The fifth fertilizer R: nutrient balance

As the fertilizer industry focuses on 4Rs, let’s not forget that balance is important

In the fertilizer business, the 4R concept has received much attention in recent years. The idea is to ensure that fertilizer use decisions are based on selecting the right fertilizer, supplying it at the right rate, at the right time and with the right placement of fertilizer. The first three Rs go back over 40 […] Read more


This is my plot site as it appeared on August 20, 2015.

Les Henry: Finding a place for bees

Syngenta’s Operation Pollinator: a good fit for an awkward piece of land

Bees are an important part of crop production, particularly canola. In recent years, concern about bee populations has initiated work to learn more and do more to help maintain bee populations. Operation Pollinator is a program of Syngenta Canada Inc. with the objective of encouraging bee populations to assist with pollination of commercial crops. It […] Read more

Les Henry: Prairie soil moisture map for 2020

Soil moisture at freeze-up in 2019: a range of moisture across the Prairies

The 2019 crop year was a challenge for all involved in our industry. The erratic rainfall patterns also challenged the preparation of this soil moisture map. Let me first acknowledge the assistance of staff from Crop Intelligence by South Country Equipment. They have now had several years of experience installing weather stations accompanied by the […] Read more