Latest articles

Catalogue houses: the Foursquare house

Ordered by mail and delivered by train, catalogue houses helped settle the Prairies

When our ancestors broke the prairie sod in the Palliser triangle there was no local wood for building houses. Timothy Eaton and his T. Eaton Co. Ltd. to the rescue. The T. Eaton Catalogue was the shopping center for isolated Prairie farms. In 1910 the T. Eaton Co. Ltd. Winnipeg Catalogue provided the first offering […] Read more

Combines I have known, Part 3

In the third part of an ongoing series on combines, Les Henry goes for the green paint

This is No. 3 in an occasional series on combines. When completed, the series will span the 63 years that I have spent running combines. Some years just a few hours, but a bit in each of the years. The first piece included a bit about a Case K2 combine. I did not have an […] Read more

Cover crops and green manure

In the Palliser Triangle, cover crops aren’t the answer in a dry cycle

The current interest in soil health issues has expanded our thinking and spawned much research and new farm-scale work with many new-to-us plant species. Cover crops are planted in the non-commercial season to add diversity to the mix and juice up the soil organisms that go along with the different plants. In wet years, cover […] Read more

Water monitoring: dull but necessary

Keeping track of all of the numbers is still necessary for decision making

Long-term monitoring of agricultural and environmental conditions and practices has been an important function of government agencies. It has been my experience in recent years that a lot of important monitoring functions have been reduced in scope or discontinued. In this column, I’ll describe a few examples of good monitoring and show the importance of […] Read more

Closeup of a plowed field, fertile, black soil.

Carbon: the mega plant nutrient

Nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon dioxide? CO2 is at the heart of crop production

When teaching about plant nutrition the first step was to list the various categories of nutrients starting with major nutrients and ending with the micros. For this piece I’ll reverse the order and start with micros. The typical nutrients Micronutrients: Micronutrients are required in small amounts and not often added as a fertilizer. But when […] Read more

Barbed wire fence through the tall golden grass fields

Sask. farm income and land prices

Land prices are rising but “this time it’s different.” Or is it?

Over the past decade or so I have gathered up data on wheat and land prices in Saskatchewan and converted them to current dollars. That way, we can better judge how we are doing compared to our ancestors. History has a way of repeating itself, so a look back can suggest what might return. I […] Read more

Horse pasture soil salinity: beware of new ground

Land has been left in grass for a reason. And sometimes this reason is salinity

In the mid to late 1970s soil salinity was the biggest issue on many Prairie farms. The hue and cry was that we would soon have little land left to farm. Some said salinity was increasing by 10 per cent per year but I never bought into that number. From 1975 to 1980 we held […] Read more

Finally, the well went dry

Do you know where your water table is, and what it will offer this year?

At my Dundurn farm I now have three years of records of the water table level in my asparagus crop in the yard and at two locations in the annual cropped field. Now, you may wonder why I would bother you with asparagus data. I use my asparagus patch as a surrogate for perennial forage […] Read more

Pasture water quality for cows

Make sure you know your water quality before you turn the cows out

Most of my articles about slough water have dealt with water in the sprayer and what it might do to herbicide results. But bad pasture water that killed 200 cows in southern Saskatchewan last summer has sharpened the focus on water for stock. Spring is nigh, so cowboys should be sure they know what their […] Read more

Precision ag Step 1: soil maps

The most important part of precision agriculture is the soil maps of your fields

My first work on precision agriculture was actually in the 1960s and colleagues had been doing work on the idea before that. Back then it was all about identifying specific soil profile types in a field and trying to determine if their variable properties could be managed differently. Some things were clear: 1. Leached (white […] Read more