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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



Make sure you mind your fertilizer Ps and Ks

The fertilizer story — why a pound of phosphorus may not really be a pound of phosphorus

In a recent article I mentioned a classic old Alberta document that talks about managing Gray Wooded soils — low in fertility and organic matter. I pointed out that when the old boys had data about rates of application of phosphorus and potassium, they meant just that, P and K, not P2O5 and K2O — […] Read more


Les Henry’s prairie stubble soil moisture map

In the map of November 2016 soil moisture, there are no “very dry” areas

As usual, this map gives only a very general indication of the soil moisture situation on the Canadian Prairies as we went into freeze up November 2016. It can be summed up in a word WET. To make a soil moisture map it is essential that a good database of rain records from many stations […] Read more



90 years of Saskatchewan farmland prices

Saskatchewan land prices have been on the move since 1968. What’s next?

Readers have been asking for an update on farmland prices but I was having trouble accessing the required data. Thanks to Terry Bedard of Saskatchewan Agriculture for sending me recent average price data. This data is just for Saskatchewan. Alberta land prices are changed by many factors that are not related to what is grown […] Read more


A convert to long-term experiments

Soil fertility is a long-term prospect that calls for long-term approaches to research

In my younger days I was not a fan of long-term experiments. Almost all were on Federal Research stations with good soils and plot practices that did not always relate to farm fields. But recent information coming from long-term experiments has changed my mind. Worldwide, the longest experiment is the famous Broadbalk field at Rothamsted […] Read more