Managing pesticide waste


How biobed research is making the move to on-farm application.

A biobed provides a safe and effective solution to manage pesticide waste disposal on a farm. It has the potential to remove up to 98% of active ingredients from herbicides, insecticides and fungicides from the water used to rinse sprayers and containers.

A few years ago, the late Dr. Claudia Sheedy, researcher with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, approached Farming Smarter about her work involving biobeds.

‘She was interested in extending her research and getting it out on farm,’ explains Jamie Puchinger, assistant manager of Farming Smarter. ‘She had been working with other researchers across Canada to study and evaluate biobed effectiveness and longevity. They felt at that point, they had enough science backing to get these implemented on the farm.’

In 2019, the 3-year project, Incorporating Pesticide Rinsate Biobeds, began with Farming Smarter building a biobed system on its research farm to biofilter all the rinsate generated through its research plots and spring applications. The project’s first goal was to biofilter 100% of the rinsate used by the applied research association by 2020.

The second component of this project was to make it easy for farmers to copy a template and build a biobed on their own operation to reduce water contamination by pesticides.

‘And, one of the ways that we thought we could do that was by creating a mobile unit as a demonstration and that farmers could borrow,’ Puchinger adds.

The Farming Smarter team built one on a tow-behind trailer this past winter to use for demonstrations and for producers to use as a template for their own systems. A local irrigation company also created a biobed system kit containing most of the components needed.

‘If a farmer is interested in creating one of these biobed systems on farm, they can pick up our trailer, take it home and use it to design their system,’ says Puchinger. ‘They can see how pieces are installed, how the plumbing works and how all the different features work.’

Puchinger expects interest in this system will grow once harvest has come to an end and producers have time to see how it works. As more consumers want to know how their food is grown, she says that biobeds can add value.

‘Using a biobed shows how farmers go above and beyond standard requirements because we care about the environment. We are showing how producers are being sustainable and responsible with the products we use.’

Funding for this project was provided by the Governments of Canada and Alberta through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership under the Environmental Stewardship and Climate Change – Group Program. In Alberta, the Canadian Agricultural Partnership represents a federal-provincial investment of $406 million in strategic programs and initiatives for the agricultural sector.