Letters to the editor – April 26, 2018

Humboldt tragedy brought out kindness

For some reason it takes a tragedy to pull people together. Such is the case when citizens of the world were there for Saskatchewan — a flatlands province in the heart of Canada — and members of the Humboldt Broncos Hockey team that met their fate on April 6 on their way to Nipawin to play a game.

WHY?

I wonder how many times this word has been uttered by so many of us.

There has to be a reason. But what is it? We may never know.

The writer is a native of Saskatchewan, born in Saskatoon many years ago, and raised on a farm at Asquith. I am a farmer’s daughter and proud of it. I live in Alberta now, but my heart is still in my home province. Alberta has treated me well.

My heart aches for the survivors and families of this terrible crash. I thank the people of the world for their kindness at this time, as do the residents of Saskatchewan. So many of you turned up to share your grief with the families. This has been a terrible incident.

What more can I say, but thank you. Your kindness is overwhelming and you are very thoughtful too. This is what our world needs. LOVE.

We must give thanks to our first responders and the police, they have a tough, thankless job.

We must feel compassion for the driver involved in this accident. He has to live with this for the rest of his life. Don’t you think this is punishment enough?

Greeta (Junop) Hogg
Black Diamond, Alta.

Rainwater good for use on farms

Water is a precious commodity in the semi-arid great plains of North America. Years ago, water was used for livestock and the usual personal uses. Great care was taken to develop and protect water sources.

The Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration was a major force in developing and encouraging water security during the 1920s and 1930s. (In 2013), the federal government of the day felt that the PFRA had outlived its mandate and closed it down.

Decline in small mixed farms and a wetter climate hastened this decision, along with financial concerns.

Improvements in dryland farming equipment started the move to continuous cropping, which is, in effect, no-till or minimum-till farming. Some 20 to 25 years of success have given the modern farmer great advantages over the half- and-half system of the past. It has come at a price.

This switch in cropping has created the exponential use of chemicals to control weed growth, and crop desiccation. All chemicals require water in volume to facilitate the effectiveness of the chemical. Chemical use is encouraged in modern agribusiness. How many applications of chemical does a modern day farmer make in a crop cycle? Several.

Where does all this water come from? Some comes from farm dugouts, but the majority appears to come from artesian springs that are scattered around the RM of Snipe Lake and adjoining municipalities. These artesian are also critical as sources of drinking water for rural residents.

During the growing season it can be very difficult for rural residents to secure drinking water from these sources because there can be lineups of 8,000 gallon tankers getting water for crop spraying. Do you know how long it takes to fill an 8,000-gallon tanker? I assume this situation exists at other springs.

I think it is time to encourage these large users of water to start looking for alternative sources of water for spraying. The reincarnation of dugouts and small dams would work for part of the water requirements, but what is overlooked is rainwater.

In recent years, many farms have built large metal-clad pole sheds to store their equipment during the off-season. If this is good business, why is it not good business to utilize the roofs of these sheds to capture many thousands of gallons of water for free.

This will require a capital investment to set up the water-collection system. You need eaves troughs and storage tanks, along with plumbing and a pump.

Not only can you have water for spraying, but also you have the security of a source of water for fire protection (remember the fall of 2017) and a source of water for yard and garden use or washing your machinery.

If every pole shed in the RM had a water storage system on site it would represent a large saving for farmers and for the municipality.

Climate change is forecast to evolve into a hotter and drier prairie region. Why not get ahead of the curve by utilizing rainwater as a source of non-potable water.

What ideas do you have?

Robert M. Gordon
Saskatoon, Sask.

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