Weed Control Programs
In Alberta, the main legislation which deals with invasive plants is the Weed Control Act of Alberta (WCA). Although the Act is Provincial legislation, it is referred to as ‘enabling’ legislation in that the responsibility to enforce it is delegated from the province to the local authority. In our case, the M.D. of Smoky River No. 130. Every municipality has a legal responsibility to appoint ‘as many inspectors as necessary’ to ensure weeds are controlled. Towns & Villages also have this responsibility. The M.D.’s Agricultural Fieldman and Weed Inspectors are appointed by the Towns of Falher & McLennan and the Villages of Donnelly & Girouxville to enforce the Weed Control Act within their boundaries. The M.D. feels this cooperative measure is important to ensure weeds do not establish and then spread from the Towns & Villages, as it is our agricultural producers and the environment which would pay the price for allowing these invasive plants to spread.
Weed control is the responsibility of the landowner or occupant. In Alberta, the Weed Control Act designates certain invasive plants as Prohibited Noxious or Noxious Weeds. The 2 categories require different levels of control by the landowner, and a different level of involvement by the Municipality.
Prohibited Noxious weeds are invasive plants of which very few are found in Alberta, including Himalayan balsam, Purple loosestrife, Spotted knapweed and nodding thistle. The province recognizes the severe threat these plants pose to our agricultural lands and wild areas, so the intent is to eradicate every one which is found in Alberta. Under the WCA a landowner is required to destroy every growing part of these plants if they are found. An inspector appointed under the WCA is required to issue a Weed Notice to the landowner and occupant (i.e. renter or lease holder) requiring the plants be destroyed if the landowner is not doing so.
Noxious weeds are plants which generally are found in most parts of Alberta. They are recognized as aggressive, troublesome weeds and landowners have a legal obligation to control these weeds on their property. The noxious category includes weeds like Canada thistle, Scentless Chamomile, Ox eye daisy and White cockle. An inspector MAY issue a weed notice requiring their control. Because the Act allows the judgement call to be made by the weed inspector, the A.S.B. has adopted a Weed Control Policy to direct which weeds are of most concern. Canada thistle for instance is widespread throughout the M.D. and most producers recognize it as a threat to their lands ability to produce, so they take active measures to control it. Weed inspectors only become involved when weeds like Canada thistle are apparently going uncontrolled and are threatening the agricultural productivity of the land or are being allowed to spread and infest other lands. Scentless chamomile is recognized as a greater threat based on its aggressive nature, its ability to produce huge amounts of seed and the seeds ability to remain dormant in the soil for more than 20 years – all of which make it a very tenacious plant. Scentless Chamomile has proven itself to be a severely invasive plant in many parts of Alberta both rural and urban. The M.D. considers it to be ‘Public Enemy No. 1′ when it comes to weeds so we have prioritized it within our policy as requiring complete control. Our goal is to have no Scentless Chamomile allowed to set seed within our boundaries.
The Weed Control Act and its regulations can be viewed at the Alberta Agriculture website Weed Control Act.
For an excellent guide which shows all the Prohibited Noxious and Noxious weeds under the WCA, follow this link to the Alberta Invasive Species Council fact sheets. The fact sheets are not only on Prohibited Noxious and Noxious weeds, but also invasive plants not covered by the WCA, and invasive animals, insects and aquatic species.
The M.D. of Smoky River’s Weed Control Policy can be reviewed by contacting the Agricultural Fieldman and will be posted on this website once the Fieldman figures out how to do that.
Under the Weed Control Act of Alberta, a municipality (with the Minister of Agriculture’s approval) can elevate invasive plants into the Prohibited Noxious and Noxious categories. Bylaw 832 was passed by third reading Mar. 9th 2011, it elevates certain plants within the M.D. to Noxious category; Cypress spurge, Roman, German and Corn chamomile as well as Stinking mayweed, are all elevated to Noxious weeds in the M.D. of Smoky River. Bylaw 832 was passed by the M.D. Council and approved by the Minister of Agriculture. If you’d like a copy, please contact the Fieldman.
The Agricultural Service Board Department staff consists of the Agricultural Fieldman, inspectors appointed under the weed control and agricultural pests act, a Spray Truck Operator who is also appointed as an inspector and four mower operators.
If you have any comments, questions or concerns regarding any M.D. of Smoky River agricultural programs, please call the Agricultural Fieldman at 780-837-2221 ext. 115 or e-mail us at email@example.com.
ROADSIDE WEED AND BRUSH CONTROL PROGRAMS
The M.D. of Smoky River utilizes a variety of control methods to deal with invasive plants on our roadsides. Herbicide applications, mowing, hand-picking and competition by ensuring bare areas are seeded to grasses. The M.D. does not apply herbicides in front of yards, shelterbelts, dugouts or registered no-spray zones. If weeds are noticed in front of yard sites or other areas that need attention, then M.D. staff will contact the landowner to either seek permission to control them or ask that they be controlled.
Should a landowner wish to prevent roadside weed and brush control from taking place in a road ditch adjacent to their property, they are required to complete a ‘No Spray Zone‘ form and purchase “No Spraying” signs at a cost of $11.00 each. These must be posted in a visible location at each end of the designated “No Spraying” area. The Landowner, in completing the form and posting the signs agrees to control weeds as required in the ‘No Spray Zone’. Should these weeds not be controlled to the satisfaction of the Agricultural Fieldman, the agreement may be terminated and the M.D. will control the weeds in whatever manner deemed necessary.
In 2008, the M.D. implemented a ‘Roadside Spray Request Form‘. Landowners are invited to complete the form which gives the M.D. permission to spray into their crop a few feet as needed when spraying for weeds or brush in the roadside ditches along their property. The intent is to control the ‘grey area’ weeds which are often left by the landowner when doing field spraying due to brush, power poles, fences or rough terrain, and are also not sprayed by the M.D. due to the concern with herbicide trespass.
The ‘Roadside Spray Request Form’ also contains an optional area which the landowner can sign giving the M.D. permission to enter onto his or her property after harvest, or when the crop is swathed if there is sufficient room to drive between the swath and the field edge to spray outward, towards the road ditch.
M.D. staff use our own truck sprayer, skid mount sprayers and backpack sprayers to spot spray for particularly tenacious weeds like White Cockle, Toadflax and Tansy when they are found on M.D. ditches or other M.D. properties. Herbicides such as Navius, Truvist, Clearview, Lontrel, Escort, Overdrive, Tordon 22K and Roundup are used for spot spraying. Brush spraying using Garlon herbicide also takes place by hand-gun spot spraying on brushed corners at intersections to improve visibility.
The M.D. operates 2 tractors with 15 foot mowers and sidearms.
The sidearm connects the tractor and mower and allows the tractor to stay on the road or in the “flatter” part of the ditch while the mower cuts on the slope of the ditch which increases safety and efficiency. In 2009 the M.D. embarqued on a more integrated mowing/spraying program by splitting the M.D. into 3 approximately equal areas where we mow the full ditch width wherever we can around mid-July, and the following year the ditches in that area are sprayed to control the weeds and brush re-growth. The other 2 areas do receive a shoulder cut, and a full cut is given on all market roads and other major M.D. roads. M.D. licensed Flood and Erosion control ditches are mowed in the fall if weather permits to remove brush and tall grass to enhance their ability to flow in the spring. Mowing is also done at M.D. properties like the Hamlets of Guy & Jean Cote, water stations, landfills, sewage lagoons & Blue Bridge campsite.
The mowing program is used to enhance grass growth, remove tall vegetation from the roadside to enhance visibility & spring runoff. With the mowing and spraying programs working together, we attempt to prevent the seed set of noxious weeds in the ditches and manage brush growth.
(Insert photo of M.D. built mower spray unit)
Starting in 2015 the M.D. began investing in new herbicide application technology – which applies herbicide through our mowers as we cut. Our first foray in 2015 with equipment available from a manufacturer did not go well, so we started investigating the feasibility of adapting our own built applicator to our mower (the photo above). In 2017 we should have an excellent trial as we will be operating our applicator system and a manufacturer’s unit to compare them.
PLEASE DON’T THROW ROCKS AND OTHER DEBRIS INTO OUR ROADSIDE DITCHES. We ask our ratepayers to help us by removing debris out of the ditches. Debris in the ditches cause costly breakdowns and delays in the mowing program. Please do not throw field stones and other debris (including used tires, baler twine, pieces of steel) into our M.D. ditches. Debris costs the M.D. in time and repairs and as the ratepayers ultimately pay for this program to operate – you pay via your land taxes in higher repair costs and by having a less efficient program.
INCINERATION OF BAGGED WEEDS
The ASB operates an incinerator which is used to destroy some of the noxious weeds in the area. If you have plants that require incinerating, they can be dropped off at the M.D. yard during business hours. The staff will ensure that they are incinerated to prevent the seeds from spreading. Weeds like Scentless Chamomile which produce huge amounts of seed that can remain viable for many years are our main target.
SEED CLEANING PLANT LICENCING
Under the Weed Control Act of Alberta, Seed Cleaning Plants that offer custom seed cleaning services are licensed by the Municipality in which they operate. The Falher Seed Cleaning Co-operative and Wade Perrin’s Mobile Seed Cleaning are both licensed by the M.D. Each seed cleaning plant undergoes an inspection of operation to look at the likelihood of cross-contamination, and to ensure weed seed hang-ups are minimized. In addition, samples are taken of the grain cleaned by the plants and these are analyzed and make up 50% of the Seed Plants final grade.