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Crop Protection

The protection of both livestock and grain crops is a core program of the Agricultural Service Board.

Vegetation Management

The Service Board uses an integrated approach to vegetation management combining manual, mechanical and chemical methods to control weeds and brush. Athabasca County is committed to use safe and environmentally sound vegetation management practices. Controlling the weed and brush growth in the roadside ditches promotes drainage and reduces shading helping the road dry faster, makes snow removal easier, reduces fire hazard and eliminates hiding spots for wildlife, all of which makes the roads safer to travel. The Department annually treats over 600 km of roadside for brush and weed control. We also inspect and treat and other public land (such as gravel pits) for noxious weed control. The use of herbicides is the most cost effective means of weed control. All herbicide applications are carried out by certified applicators following the Industrial Vegetation Management Association’s (IVMA)- Standards and Good Practices protocol, also Alberta Environment’s Code of Practice for the safe use and handling of pesticides. While any Prohibited Noxious or Noxious weeds will be targeted, we have found over the years that our main target weeds of concern tend to be Canada Thistle, Perennial Sow Thistle, Toadflax and Scentless Chamomile.

Unfortunately though, throughout the County in limited locations, we have small amounts of all the worst weeds on the Prohibited Noxious and Noxious lists. These would include Common Tansy, Field Scabious, White Cockle, and Ox-Eye Daisy.

The department currently has a weed control incentive program to assist producers with off-setting of the cost of herbicide to control weeds on pasture and rangeland.

For those residents who wish not to have roadsides along their property treated with herbicides, they may enter into a signed agreement with the County whereby they assume responsibility for weed control in the ditch. For details on the Terms of Agreement and our Roadside Weed Control Program, call Agricultural Services.

Insects and Disease Control

The Agricultural Pests Act directs that Agricultural Pests (Norway Rat, Blackleg & Clubroot of Canola, Dutch Elm Disease, Warble Fly, etc.) must be controlled. and that Agricultural Nuisances (Coyotes, Skunks, Richardson’s Ground Squirrel, Northern Pocket Gopher, etc.) may be controlled.

The Agricultural Service Board (ASB) works under Alberta Agriculture’s directive on these issues and have programs for pest control. It should be noted that where there are urban and human interactions with Coyotes, Alberta Fish and Wildlife are legislated to deal with these situations. ASB may assist with Coyote control as it relates to agricultural production, and where a proven case of predation has occurred.

The potential impact of insects and disease varies from year to year and the Ag Service Board has a monitoring program to predict outbreaks.

The Service Board has Electrostatic sprayer available for the control of Blackflies as well as two Bran Bait applicators available for localized treatments of Grasshoppers.

Problem Wildlife

Under the mandate of the Agricultural Land Flood Control Program the County Problem Wildlife Specialists, Kevin Robinson and Luke Chernish respond to agricultural flooding problems, requiring the destruction of beaver dams and the removal or relocation of beavers. The department also installs Beaver Stop culvert protection devices that provide long term protection of road crossings from beaver damage.

The Department also conducts a Coyote Predation Control and an intensive pocket gopher management program in the Rochester area.