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Soil conservator named to Order of Canada

One of Canada’s top advocates of soil conservation, retired senator Herb Sparrow, has been named a member of the Order of Canada.

Sparrow, a farmer and businessman from North Battleford, Sask., was cited Tuesday in a release by Governor General Michaelle Jean “for his contributions to Canadian soil conservation and sustainable farming policy, as well as for his volunteerism and dedication to charities in the town of North Battleford.”

New members of the Order will get their insignias at a ceremony on an as-yet-unspecified date.

Sparrow, born into a farm family southwest of Saskatoon in 1930, was known in western Saskatchewan as a supporter of better management practices for ag soils. In 1968 he was named a Liberal senator by then-Prime Minister Lester Pearson and took his soil conservation message to the national stage.

Sparrow chaired the Senate ag committee from 1980 to 1984 and spearheaded a Senate study on the effects of soil degradation in Canada. The study evolved into an often-cited document titled Soil at Risk: Canada’s Eroding Future.

Sparrow has also been credited for his involvement in establishing Soil Conservation Canada and the “Save our Soils” program to reduce tillage, seed waterways to grass and seed marginal and saline land to forages.

Among previous honours conferred on Sparrow are honorary life membership in the Agricultural Institute of Canada, honorary membership in the Soil Science Society of Canada, the Soil Conservation Society of America honour award for soil conservation, a medal from the United Nations Environment Program, the H.R. MacMillan Laureate Award in agriculture at the University of Guelph for the most significant contribution to agriculture in the years 1984-89, an honorary doctorate from McGill University in 1988 and induction into the Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2000.

Sparrow retired from the Senate in 2005.

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