Biobed advocate honoured for conservation work

The late Claudia Sheedy, a research scientist with Agriculture Canada, is this year’s recipient of the Orville Yanke award. It is issued annually to recognize leadership and contributions in southern Alberta soil conservation.

Sheedy was instrumental in researching and disseminating information on biobeds, a method of eliminating pesticide residue from the rinsate in crop sprayer cleanout.

The 45-year-old mother of two died suddenly on July 12 while mountain biking in Kimberley, B.C.

The award, presented Dec. 3 during the Farming Smarter conference, was accepted by her husband, Jollin Charest. He said she would have been honoured to receive the award and would have wanted to share it with the team of researchers, technicians and assistants that contributed to her research.

“Anyone who would have known Claudia would know she was a very passionate individual. She was passionate about her studies, her work, she loved science, the environment and wanted to contribute to sustainable agriculture,” said Charest.

Sheedy was a soil scientist, following in the footsteps of her father, who was also a soil scientist in her native Quebec. She moved to southern Alberta in 2005 to accept a job with Agriculture Canada based at the Lethbridge Research Centre.

She became a driving force in studying and promoting the use of biobeds and helped write a manual on their operation and how farmers could establish biobeds on their own farms.

Extension work with Farming Smarter and other organizations led to development of a mobile biobed, used for demonstration purposes, as well as a permanent site on Farming Smarter grounds near Lethbridge.

Biobed sites have now been established in most Canadian provinces and continue to generate interest as a way to handle pesticide residue and better protect the environment.

The late Orville Yanke was among southern Alberta’s earliest and most ardent promoters of soil conservation and helped establish two applied research groups that later merged into Farming Smarter.

The award in his name has been presented annually since 2009.


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