Exploring How Lentils are Grown & Their Sustainability Attributes


I'm Cory Lisa and this is my son Aiden

and we farm in northwestern Saskatchewan

this is a farm that we purchased in 1991

and we started farming with my parents

and since then we've developed our own

farm business

we are currently seating about 3,000

acres we grow a variety of crops on our

farm for pulse crops that would include

lentils and yellow peas canola spring

wheat and some barley some oats and fava

beans we've had a couple different times

as well lentils are typically planted in

early May we try to get them in the

ground relatively early because getting

them planted early typically lends

itself to to being ready to harvest in

mid to later August common practice in

Western Canada now is to seed the crop

directly into the stubble of the

previous crop by doing that we're always

maintaining a protective cover over the

land to protect the topsoil so the

seeding process that that we and most

farms would be using these days it

involves an air drill you put the lentil

seeds in a tank and they are transferred

via an air stream into tubes so the

machine goes down the field basically

blowing the lentil seeds into the ground

and typically they're placed about an

inch and a half into the surface of the

soil and then they emerge from there

lentils are a relatively small crop my

small amines shortened in stature they

would typically grow in our area at

least about a foot tall they produce the

seeds in small pods and each pod may

have one two or perhaps even three

lentil seeds in it typically we see one

and two and because they grow so short

harvesting methods need to be adapted to

to efficiently harvest the crop

and and retain most of the seeds during

harvest and so one of the things that we

use is called a flex header for the

combine and that header floats along the

ground follows the ground contours

really closely and breaks all of the

lentil pods and plant into the combine

pulses are a key component in lowering

the environmental footprint of food

production and food consumption and an

ingredient for a sustainable diet so one

of the really unique things about

lentils are about the whole group of

pulse crops is that they are able to fix

nitrogen so they are able to form a

relationship with bacteria in the soil

that that enables them to draw nitrogen

out of the atmosphere and put it into

the soil both for the use of that plant

that's growing and also leave some in

the soil for subsequent crops and so

that having that crop in our crop

rotation lowers the overall greenhouse

gas imprint over the whole farming

system lentils have actually a negative

carbon footprint so they put more carbon

into the soil than is emitted so then

makes the whole system more sustainable

over time I'm Aidan Leeson I'm currently

doing an agronomy degree at the U of S

I'm in my third year I'll complete it

next year and then I plan to come home

and take over the farm as growers we are

accountable to consumers which also

makes us accountable for the soil and

soil health is very important to us as

our main means of production and part of

that sustainability factor is including

lentils within that when we talk about

crop rotation basically what we're

talking about is how frequently we would

plant a particular crop on a particular

field and and we tend to have a sequence

of crops over a series of years in order

to disrupt natural disease cycles that

build up or natural insect and

cycles typically we would plant a crop

perhaps as frequently as as once every

four years but that may change to two

being as long as once every seven years

we don't do any soil disturbance the

only tillage that would take place is is

what disturbance is necessary to

actually place the seed in the soil at

planting depth other than that the soil

remains undisturbed there's a really

deliberate reason for that and it is

because of soil conservation again as we

go back in history more tillage was was

the normal practice but in this part of

the world that results in a really

vulnerable state for the soil to be in

and really susceptible to erosion we in

this farming area have only about six

inches of topsoil it's ultimately the

most important thing in terms of

managing our land resource is protecting

that topsoil layer so that's why we've

changed our practices over the years to

now where I would confidently say we

have almost eliminated soil erosion with

their current production practices and

so we've adapted over time - as I

mentioned leave the residue from the

previous crop always standing to protect

the topsoil and that is I can't stress

enough how important that is to us as as

farmers and as landowners to keep that

topsoil in place lentils are not grown

under irrigation when they are seeded

the only water that they are able to use

it comes from environmental

precipitation compared to other crops

lentils are very well adapted to living

in drought conditions they are very well

adapted to living in the semi-arid

climate as well as kind of a shorter

growing season they don't require a

whole lot of water to grow the routing

system and lentils is typically very

shallow and fibrous it won't reach down

into the depths that other crops would

and so that means that water that is

accumulated in the soil is

able to be used for later crops with our

farming techniques waste is at an

all-time low in terms of how precise

we're getting how much we're returning

back into the soil and how much we're

leaving behind we're taking as little as

possible which is only the seed during

harvest and the seeds get conveyed up

into a grain tank and the rest of the

plant material actually continues to

flow through the machine and go through

a straw chopper which breaks it into

small pieces and then it's it's blown or

distributed behind the combine back onto

the land and that material then becomes

organic matter ultimately and becomes

part of the soil for future production

so nothing in the process is wasted

really all we're harvesting is the seeds

and the remainder stays on the soil

technology and farming has changed a lot

over the years and it will continue to

change things like GPS have really

changed the game and really limited us

in our inputs and we're not using as

much as we normally would on our farm we

take the utmost pride in maintaining its

health and preserving its quality for

future generations the population is

growing around the world food demand is

increasing and demand for plant-based

proteins is increasing and on our farm

we hope to continue to supply safe and

nutritious sustainable food to various

consumers around the world and we

believe we're able to do that into the

future and by preserving our resources

and and using new techniques I think

we're getting better and better at

producing sustainable food that can

support the global population growth