Latest articles

How water comes out of the ground

Water comes to the surface in many different ways

In my last column I looked at water entering the ground and the factors that control that flow. This time, I’ll look at water coming out of the ground and the clues it leaves about its origin. Contact springs A contact spring occurs when the contact zone between a very sandy soil and a finer […] Read more

Natural controls on internal drainage of sloughs

Whether or not your slough will drain quickly is a more complicated question than it appears

Many farms in Western Canada are plenty wet, and the 1.25 inches of rain we got on May 7 set seeding back a few days. When a rain like that comes we hope for a hot, dry wind to “dry it up.” But, evaporation is a small party of the overall equation. Sloughs do not […] Read more

Getting to the root of the matter

In the third of a three-part series, Les Henry looks at roots of field and garden crops

This is the final of a three-part series. In part 1 (April 11, 2017) I talked about the folks that provided very detailed diagrams of many plant roots to the depth needed to get the complete picture. Part 2 (April 25, 2017) was perennial pasture and hay crops and weeds and part 3 is field […] Read more

Organic wheat and fusarium head blight

There have been recent farm press talks about the lack of fusarium head blight and associated vomi problems in organic wheat. Organic farmers do not spray with fungicides so how can that be? Some experts say that in a fusarium area and year there is no way to grow wheat without spraying with a fungicide. […] Read more

Back to the root of the matter

In Part 2 of a 3-part series, Les Henry talks about perennial crop roots

This is Part 2 of a three-part series. In Part 1 we talked about the folks that provided very detailed diagrams of many plant roots to the depth needed to get the complete picture. In this part, we’ll talk about perennial plant roots, and in Part 3 will be about annual crop plants. Read more: […] Read more

Getting to the root of the matter

For a look at the big picture, the ‘old’ research on roots is still relevant today

Plant roots are receiving more attention of late and well they should. Roots are the foragers that deliver water and nutrients to the plant, but too often our attitude is “out of sight, out of mind.” With the current interest in many plant species, cover crops and soil health, much of it comes down to […] Read more

Precision ag may not work on your farm

In the field, precision ag does not yet live up to the hype that has surrounded it

If we go into a farm meeting and ask how many are using auto steer almost all hands go up. If you ask how many are using variable rate only a few respond. The uptake has been slow and many techies think that farmers are slow adopters. Guess what folks: if it works farmers are […] Read more

Simplifying phosphorus

Experts’ opinion on P fertilizer have changed over time, and are still changing now

In the early days of fertilizer use on the Canadian Prairies phosphorus was the only game in town- mostly 11-48-0. “If in doubt use 11-48,” was the chant. Much work was done to find the amounts to use for various crops and soils and the best way to put it on. We thought we knew […] Read more

Looking for solutions for fusarium

Fusarium head blight is on the rise, and Les Henry is looking for a solution

The title of this piece might suggest that the author is an authority on plant disease, but that is not true. For this I have my farmer hat on. There is nothing like a little skin in the game to force one to read the literature and learn. My rotation had been wheat/peas/wheat/canola for 15 […] Read more

Planning fertilizer for forage crops

Some food for thought on fertilization to establish forage crops in your fields

Forage crops are sometimes treated as the neglected child. Once it is established, come along with a haybine if there is enough rain to make a crop. If it continues to rain after the bales are off maybe even come in to get a small second cut. Grass hay crops are often left to wither […] Read more