GFM Network News


The slough next to my farmyard July 29, 2013. See below how it looks seven years later.

Les Henry: New information on the water table and crop yields

Sloughs do tell a story about water tables

In recent years, this column has talked a lot about higher water tables and the role they play in harvesting good crops on years with low rainfall. The United States has maintained the system of land grant universities that are directly tied to the land and deal primarily with research that has a bang at […] Read more

Spring runoff typically offers a great kick of moisture to get things started, but if things turn dry, where do you turn?

Les Henry: Water information in Western Canada is flowing nicely

Look to these sources for information on where to find water
 during dry spells

The past few years, growing-season rain on many Canadian Prairie farms has been much less than needed for a good crop. From 2005 to 2014 high snowfall plus much above-average rainfall provided more than enough moisture for crop growth. The excess rain and snow filled the soil and raised the water table by as much […] Read more


From left to right, these photos show plots were the water hardness is 120 ppm, 400 ppm, then 1200 ppm. Glyphosate has been applied at 2/3 of label rate. Water hardness can take the edge off weed control.

Les Henry: Water quality and herbicides

You know your herbicides. But what’s in the other 999 gallons you put in the tank?

As we gear up to fill the sprayer and begin killing weeds maybe we should take another look at what is in the other 999 gallons in the sprayer. It is well known that the water should be clean with no silt or debris present, but this piece deals with the dissolved “goodies” you cannot […] Read more

The pretty little slough, circled in red, on August 31, 2006.

Les Henry: A pretty little slough, a picture story

Sloughs are affected by the underground as well as surface features

Be patient. This piece does have a punch line and it does relate to farming — but it comes at the end. Carry on and read. No peeking! In 2007 I was involved in a hydrogeology study of a new subdivision in southeast Saskatoon. The real work was done by an engineering firm who hired […] Read more


Finally, soil moisture measuring meets new tech

A map of soil moisture at freeze-up can give you a good indication of your yield potential

Water in the bank is a certainty; rainfall is a probability. Much of what we do in farming is based on probabilities — a game of chance. What are the chances we will get timely rains to keep a crop from withering away to a low yield? What are the chances we will suffer disease […] Read more

Hydration is important because water does many things for the body.

How are your health habits?

Many say they are too busy to include new habits into their day for better health

The problem with habits is that they take time and effort — something we don’t naturally drift to. Health is an ongoing series of habits and decisions you make every day, but one of the biggest barriers clients tell me about is not having enough time to include new healthy habits into their life. They […] Read more


This is the slough where the salt water changes shown in the table were measured. This photo was taken on July 29, 2013. The water level is now much lower.

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

During a heat wave a dugout can dry up and endanger your herd.

Make sure livestock have water

Situation can get serious quickly if a pump fails, or a water hole dries up

Water is the most essential nutrient of life and even though most areas have more than enough water this year, it’s always worth talking about the risk of water deprivation. Insufficient and poor-quality water can reduce weight gain and depending on the water source, there can be other issues such as foot rot and potential […] Read more


Once the wet well is in place, construct an insulated pad around the wet well pedestal that will not only keep the area from getting muddy, but will prevent hoof action from driving frost down in winter.

Proper installation of Frostfree Nosepumps

Proper insulation and keeping components below frost line ensure trouble free operation

Many livestock producers have found Frostfree Nosepumps can provide a reliable off-grid water supply for horses and cattle. But, as cold-climate installers of the pumps have discovered, it is important not to cut corners during setup. There are four major components of successful installation. An installer must establish a geothermal wet well that has a static water level below […] Read more

This is what the asparagus patch looked like on October 10, 2017. Obviously still accessing enough water. It can root to 12 feet or more, so capillary rise from the water table is keeping it going.

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