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2019 Agricultural Service Board Report

 


Board Composition:

Ryley Andersen - Councillor (Chairman) James Schwindt - Agricultural Fieldman
Bob Barss - Councillor Tanis Ponath - Asst. Agricultural Fieldman
Bob Dickson - Farm Member Rod Gabrielson - Pest Control Officer
John Campbell - Farm Member  * Four ASB meetings where held in 2019
Wayne Leskow - Farm Member

 

LEGISLATIVE GRANT STREAM SECTION

ADMINISTRATION

The Agricultural Service Board (ASB) received grants from Alberta Agriculture in the amount of $250,359 of which $168,359 was the Provincial ASB Grant–Legislative Stream, $39,000 was the Provincial ASB Grant–Environmental Stream and $43,000 was the Rat Control Grant.  All rural municipalities in the province received a 27.4% cut to Provincial ASB Grant – Legislative Stream in 2020.  The Environmental Stream amount is unknown at this time.  The ASB continued to support the Town of Wainwright’s noxious weed control program in the amount of $4,000.  The Municipal District of Wainwright (M.D.) sold 130 cases and 17 bottles of 2% liquid strychnine concentrate (LSC) to 61 agricultural producers in 2019.  The 2% LSC has been ordered and we should have a good supply for 2020.  The 2% LSC Final Decision Document allows for municipal sales to producers until March 4, 2022 and farmer use will be valid until March 4, 2023.  The M.D. hosted the 15th annual Rural Routes supper and social, which again proved to be a popular event, with approximately 385 ratepayers and their families attending.  There were a number of no shows again this year.  The 2020 Rural Routes supper will be held on August 7, 2020.  The M.D. of Wainwright continues to operate 3 municipal water tankloader facilities for agriculture, shelterbelt and other approved uses.  Approximate usage levels for the tankloaders in 2019 were as follows:  Ribstone 22,484 gallons, Giltedge 589,380 gallons and Irma 961,983 gallons.

VEGETATION MANAGEMENT AND CROP PEST MONITORING

The M.D. continued to maintain three weed inspectors and three herbicide injection and GPS equipped trucks.  These trucks were stationed in Irma, Wainwright and Edgerton.  Our three-year rotational roadside spray program was completed in 2019.  This year was the first year in the third rotation.  Aspect and Clearview were used as the herbicides of choice for the general roadside program.  We continue to address weeds such as Toadflax, Scentless Chamomile, Leafy Spurge, Tansy, Tall Buttercup, White Cockle, Baby’s Breathe and Canada Thistle found within our boundaries.  Prohibited noxious weeds, Nodding Thistle, Diffuse Knapweed and Hoary Alyssum, continue to be monitored and controlled where found. 

The prohibited noxious weed Purple Loosestrife was identified for the first time south of the Town of Wainwright in Enstrom Pond.  Clean-up efforts commenced between affected partners which included the M.D. of Wainwright, Town of Wainwright, Wainwright Regional Waste to Energy Authority and private landowners.  Alberta Environment has applied for a Special Use Approval (SUA) through the Environmental Parks Pesticide Regulatory Department. The SUA will allow affected partners to use more control measures in hopes to eradicate the invasive weed before it spreads.

An aquatic invasive plant called Phragmites was found along the Canadian National (CN) rail line in 2018 and was reported to Alberta Environment for enforcement and was sprayed by CN in 2019.  This site will have to be monitored moving forward due to some plants going to seed prior to spraying.  Alberta Transportation contractor Emcon Services, did not conduct any rotational spraying in 2019, but they did send a contractor to spot spray designated noxious weed sites that we requested and they did a fairly good job this year.  Alberta Transportation does not know what their spray program will be yet for 2020.

We completed our planned roadside spraying program and responded to all submitted weed calls.  We slightly reduced our adjuvant rate and tried an alternative in an effort to reduce the purpling of the grass and we saw mixed results in 2019. These grasses were not dead, just discolored.  Due to the weather only a limited amount of the fall dormant grass seeding of right-of-ways and borrow pits was completed in 2019 and the remainder will be addressed in the spring of 2020.  The mowing contractor completed about 900 miles of roadside shoulder mowing in 2019.  The roadside mowing was advertised and a local contractor was awarded the contract for 2020 and 2021 with an option for an extension, as per conditions in the 2020 contract.

The ASB continued to partner with Alberta Agriculture in their pest surveillance program.  The Assistant Agricultural Fieldman focused on setting up traps for Diamondback Moths, Swede Midge, Bertha Armyworms and soil sampling for Wheat Midge throughout the municipality.  The information collected was showcased on the provincial pest monitoring website.  Populations of Bertha Armyworms appear to be on the downward trend; however, it is still important to scout canola fields because populations could go either way in 2020.  Diamondback Moth counts were insignificant at the one monitored location.  There has been no known Swede Midge detected within the municipality, however, the newly named Canola Blossom Midge has been identified.  It is still unknown whether there is cause for economic concern.  The annual Grasshopper survey was completed with 39 sites being surveyed.  Counts were low in 2019 with a few “hot spots” across the M.D.  The M.D. of Wainwright completed random Clubroot inspections on approximately 71 canola fields.  Visual evidence of Clubroot was not found on any of the randomly selected fields in 2019.  We believe more Clubroot positive fields are present throughout the municipality but were not found due to a variety of factors, including weather conditions, increased use of resistant varieties and some moved towards more sustainable crop rotations.  Bertha Armyworm, Diamondback Moth, Grasshoppers, Wheat Midge and Clubroot will be surveyed again in 2020.

 

VERTEBRATE PEST CONTROL

In 2019 there were no rat infestations in the M.D. of Wainwright.  With the new definition of an inspection site, as designated by Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, all sites continue to be re-assessed and plotted on a map using GPS coordinates.  Inspection sites will continually be changing from year to year and we will update our maps as required in 2020.  There were about 96 days spent on rat control in 2019 and 130 days spent on beaver control.  The Pest Control Officer cleaned out 176 culverts by hand and removed 6 dams with dynamite.  There were 162 beavers and 35 muskrats removed from problem areas affecting municipal infrastructure.  Skunk, raccoon and magpie traps are available for municipal ratepayers to use from the Wainwright and Chauvin shops. 

If you have any questions or concerns about the pest control program, call the Pest Control Officer, Rod Gabrielson at 780-842-7285 or the M.D. office at 780-842-4454.

 

 

ENVIRONMENTAL GRANT STREAM SECTION

MUNICIPAL PROJECTS, DEMONSTRATIONS AND EXTENSION ACTIVITIES

This year the M.D. of Wainwright received $39,000.00 from the Alberta Environmentally Sustainable Agriculture Program (AESA).  The focus of this grant money is to provide information and programs within three priority areas:  Management of Water Quality and Amount, Maintaining Riparian Ecosystems and Sustaining Biodiversity in the M.D. of Wainwright.

The ASB newsletter called “The Municipal Agricultural Connection” continues to be a source of information for our rural rate payers.  The newsletter was published every two months throughout the year and distributed to approximately 1800 rural residents.  A copy can also be found on our website.  Pertinent information regarding control of prohibited noxious weeds and noxious weeds, pest management and upcoming events can be accessed on the municipal website www.mdwainwright.ca.

The M.D. of Wainwright still offers assistance to producers who are interested in completing an Environmental Farm Plan (EFP).  EFP’s are a great self-assessment to help identify environmental risks on your operation and determine how to mitigate them.  The EFP is also a requirement for some of the grant programs offered through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP).  The CAP program is still open for applications on a variety of programs that include the Environmental Stewardship and Climate Change Producer Program which provides funding for activities such as riparian management and agriculture input and waste management.  The Farm Water Supply Program is another program available to producers which provides funding for drilled water wells, water well abandonment and dugouts.  Visit www.cap.alberta.ca.

The Assistant Agricultural Fieldman attended FarmTech, the Alberta Invasive Species Conference and the Western Canada Conference on Soil Health and Grazing.  She also attended Rural Extension Services staff training and attended various webinars, covering a wide range of topics from CAP to industry updates.

The Assistant Agricultural Fieldman hosted a variety of workshops for rural residents in 2019.  We co-hosted a “From the Ground Up” workshop with the Flagstaff County and the Battle River Research Association.  The first annual Backyard Gardening workshop was a sold-out event.  Residents who attended the workshop learned about native bees and assembled native bee nesting boxes.  We also heard from the Alberta Invasive Species Council on invasive weed management and a local Master Gardener on pest management.  The Assistant Agricultural Fieldman continues to sit on the Grazing School for Women planning committee.  This year’s event was hosted by Lamont County and approximately 60 ladies were in attendance.  This year we had a stock dog and equine dentistry showcase.  In class sessions included soil health, cow/calf nutrition and rural crime prevention.

Throughout the year, we continued to receive inquires regarding tree and shelterbelt health in the municipality.  The Assistant Agricultural Fieldman responds to these calls and assists landowners with identification, as well as information about treatment and prevention.  The M.D. of Wainwright continues to offer tree information packages that outline several businesses which sell trees, as well as information on proper care for your shelterbelt.  M.D. residents continue to use the tree planter and plastic mulch applicator which is available to residents for use at no charge.

The M.D. continues to support the 100 Year Farm Family Award.  We had two Farm Family submissions in 2019, the Archibald Family from Irma, AB and the Perry Family from Chauvin, AB.  The municipal calendar photo contest continues to be a popular contest and local residents quickly picked up 750 copies of the calendar.

If you are interested in becoming involved in any of our workshops or if you have ideas for an event or newsletter article, please contact Assistant Agricultural Fieldman, Tanis Ponath at 780-842-4454. 

The above is a brief report on the activities of the Agricultural Services Department in 2019.  We extend our thanks to the municipal Council, administration, staff and the members of the Agricultural Service Board for their cooperation, guidance and assistance throughout the year.  If you have any questions or concerns regarding this report, please contact Agricultural Fieldman, James Schwindt at 780-842-4454.

Respectfully Submitted,

James Schwindt, Agricultural Fieldman