GFM Network News


My experiences with Saskatchewan Crop Insurance have been mostly positive. – Les Henry

Les Henry: Government farm programs

My experience as a two-bit farmer

Farm programs are much in the news these days. “I am from the government and am here to help you.” Have you ever heard that one before? Full disclosure — I am not an ag economist so this is largely opinion backed up with facts based on my experience as a two-bit farmer. A bit […] Read more

Les Henry is a Grainews columnist and a former professor and extension specialist at the University of Saskatchewan.

PHOTOS: Les Henry: Down on the farm

A big part of my Dundurn farm are my neighbours and the things we do for one another. In my case, I’m most often on the receiving end. Last fall, my good neighbour Iver Johnson, who is very handy with a wrench, helped me out with some tasks around the farm. His son Landon, who […] Read more


Base map courtesy of Andrew Nadler PEAK HydroMet Solutions.

Les Henry: Soil moisture map for 2021

The situation shows a lot of red ink on the Prairies

To start with, we must realize this is a very general, high-level picture of the situation. It is meant to do just that, as well as provide a framework for farmers and agronomists to relate their situation to. Having it available early in the new year, means it can be part of the decisions made […] Read more

A soil core showing the dry layer from one- to three-foot depths. In this situation, the only plant-available water is in the top foot. Roots will not penetrate the dry layer to access the moist soil beneath. Sufficient rain must fall to wet up the dry layer before the deeper moisture comes into play.

Les Henry: Soil moisture and rain

One plus one does not always equal two

Soil moisture as a soil management issue has finally come into its own with the advent of tech savvy young folk using soil moisture probes to get real information in real time. Thanks to those who provide me with information to help make the annual, three-province, Soil Moisture Map as of freeze-up. To make a […] Read more


Design No. 105 on page 98 of The Radford Ideal Homes: 100 Houses Illustrated, 1910.

Les Henry: Catalogue houses of the past. Who were the actors?

Many houses thought to be Eaton’s have turned out to be from some other company

Yesterday’s version of online shopping was the catalogue. In Canada, the T. Eaton Company Ltd. catalogues were most common. Many Santa Claus lists were fulfilled via Canada Post from the T. Eaton catalogue. For Western Canada, the Eaton’s catalogue came from Winnipeg. The range of goods available was extensive — all the way from clothing, […] Read more

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

Weekly rainfall from September 26 to October 2, 2017.

Soil moisture: the old and new stories

Know your subsoil moisture and your chance of rain to make seeding decisions

The first freeze-up stubble soil moisture map was made in Saskatchewan in 1978. Readers with Henry’s Handbook of Soil and Water can see it on Page 109. It showed a lot of “very dry” and “dry” space. Red ink was common in the 1980s. The maps below show the situation in fall 1987 and fall […] Read more


Stubble soil moisture map, November 1, 2017

Stubble soil moisture map, November 1, 2017

Les Henry’s annual map of fall soil moisture going into the winter months

The November 1, 2016, fall soil moisture map was, in a word, wet. In Manitoba and much of Saskatchewan all soils were at field capacity (holding maximum available water) and many areas were so wet that water tables were near enough to surface to be a factor. When the water table is within about five […] Read more

This slide cabinet holds 5,000 slides and allows me to view 120 at a time. Any slide can be located in a flash if a good filing system is in place.

Exhibit 1: Weather cycles — Willowbunch Lake

Over the course of 30+ years at the University of Saskatchewan I collected about 5,000 35 mm colour slides. Many were taken by me while pounding pavement but I also “inherited” slides from folks who retired or moved. I also have a slide cabinet at home with hundreds of slides from junkets to Tanzania, Swaziland […] Read more