Don Rennie was born at Medicine Hat, Alberta, and raised on a farm near Gull Lake, Saskatchewan. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture from the University of Saskatchewan in 1949 and his PhD in Soil Science from the University of Wisconsin in 1952. That year, Rennie joined the Soil Science Department at the University of Saskatchewan. He served as Dean of Agriculture between 1984 and 1989. From 1966 to 1970 he was headquartered in Vienna, Austria, as head of the soils section in an international project jointly conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency. Rennie is recognized around the world for his work on soils, and has acted as a consultant to governments and international organizations. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Saskatchewan Institute of Pedology, which integrated federal, provincial, and university programs and activities in soil science. His views on the danger of misuse of summerfallow have caused farmers to consider the merits of minimum tillage and continuous cropping. He has conducted research into soil deterioration, soil salinity, nitrogen transformation and movement in soils, and dust-fall accumulation in soils in the vicinity of potash refineries.
Rennie received the Canadian Centennial Medal Award in 1967 and the American Chemical Society Award in 1966 for his research on the phosphorous chemistry of soils and on fertilizer-phosphorous management practices for cereal grains. Additional awards received include: Fellow of the Canadian Society of Soil Science (1971); Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy (1972); Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America (1976); and Fellow of the Agricultural Institute of Canada (1976). He was winner of the Agronomy Merit Award in 1979, and in 1983 was inducted into the Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame. He became a Member of the Order of Canada in 1992.
U. Theodore Hammer