By Kaeley Kindrachuk, B.App.Sci., TechAg, Crops Extension Specialist and Michelle Panko, Program Information Specialist
Pesticides are an important tool in Western Canadian agriculture. Best practices do exist to reduce pesticides from entering water systems, however, they are still being detected. The construction of biobeds is one option available to producers to help reduce the possibility of pesticide rinsate contaminating water sources.
Biobeds are structures that are designed to filter pesticide rinsate from sprayer tanks. There are usually two structures filled with a biomixture that filters a significant portion of the pesticide residue out of the sprayer. Rinsate is first collected on a sloped collection pad, it then drains into a sump and is pumped into a storage tank. The storage tank releases a certain amount of rinsate onto the first biobed and from there it is filtered through by adsorption and degradation onto the second biobed. The second biobed will do the same, afterwards the leftover rinsate is considered clean and can be used to water grass or trees. By managing the pesticide rinsate this way, the amount of potentially contaminated rinsate entering surface or groundwater is reduced.
Through the Canadian Agriculture Partnership, the Ministry of Agriculture has various programs to help with reducing water contamination. Under the Farm Stewardship Program, producers can access funding to implement beneficial management practices (BMPs). The Environmental Solutions BMP allows producers to implement innovative and non-typical solutions to mitigate environmental risk in agriculture operations. While a biobed will not suit every farm, it may be an option that some producers would like to consider.
For more detailed information on constructing a biobed or potential funding available please see the Government of Canada page regarding biobeds. You can also contact your nearest agriculture programs specialist, crops extension specialist, or contact the Agriculture Knowledge Centre.