Top Crop Manager

New AAFC research scientist builds valuable data on pesticides

March 6, 2023  By Top Crop Manager

Southern Alberta’s new research scientist in environmental chemistry, Jonathan Challis, is focusing on studying how agriculturally related chemicals react and move in the environment.

The data coming from his lab will inform on-farm best-management practices, potential remediation or mitigation efforts when warranted and data-driven risk assessment and regulation.

Challis joined AAFC Lethbridge in January 2022 and is passionate about his field of study and the benefits it can bring to the agriculture community and society as a whole.


His research focus is analytical chemistry and he studies methods to measure chemicals in the environment. In this position, that mostly relates to pesticides and other agriculture-related chemicals, including veterinary products for livestock, and cyanotoxins released by algae blooms in water and how they might impact irrigated crops. While crop nutrients aren’t Challis’ main focus, they factor into much of his research.

“Ultimately, the goal is to inform evidence-based risk assessment around some of these chemicals and sustainable agriculture,” says Challis.

Challis is actively looking for ways to connect with farmers and discover ways his research can provide on-farm benefit.

“From my perspective, I think there’s a misconception that farmers don’t care about the environment.  My research in many cases confirms that there isn’t reason for concern around many agricultural-use chemicals in the environment,” says Challis. “However, in the cases where the data does suggest potential negative impacts, these are critical to study further to understand exactly how and why these impacts occur in order to inform sustainable use. A lot of times important data around environmental occurrence, fate, and effects of pesticides is lacking and decisions get made based on an incomplete understanding of the actual impacts.”

Challis’ research provides evidence and data to risk assessors and regulators they need to make decisions around the use and practices for agricultural chemicals, while also informing farmers regarding these chemicals so they can make good decisions.

Visit for the full story on Challis.


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