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2018 Agricultural Service Board Report

 


Board Composition:

Ted Wilkinson - Councillor (Chairman) James Schwindt - Agricultural Fieldman
Ryley Andersen - Councillor Tanis Ponath - Asst. Agricultural Fieldman
Don Jones - Farm Member Rod Gabrielson - Pest Control Officer
John Campbell - Farm Member  
Wayne Leskow - Farm Member

 

LEGISLATIVE GRANT STREAM SECTION

ADMINISTRATION

During the year, 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.  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 (MD) sold 160 cases and 20 bottles of 2% liquid strychnine concentrate (LSC) to 68 agricultural producers in 2018.  The 2% LSC has been ordered and we should have a good supply for 2019.  The 2% LSC label will be valid until December 2019 and we have not yet heard whether the product label will be renewed past that time.  The MD hosted the 14th 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 2019 Rural Routes supper will be held on August 9, 2019.  The MD of Wainwright continues to operate 3 municipal water tankloader facilities for agriculture, shelterbelt and other approved uses.  Approximate usage levels for the tankloaders in 2018 were as follows:  Ribstone 187,726 gallons, Giltedge 568,040 gallons and Irma 686,925 gallons.

VEGETATION MANAGEMENT AND CROP PEST MONITORING

The MD continued to maintain three weed inspectors and three herbicide injection and GPS equipped trucks.  These trucks were stationed in Irma, Wainwright and Edgerton.  In 2018, the third year in the second rotation of the three-year rotational roadside spray program was completed. 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.  An aquatic invasive plant called Phragmites was found along the Canadian National (CN) rail line and was reported to Alberta Environment for enforcement.  A letter regarding Phragmites control was sent to CN, Alberta Environment and Alberta Agriculture.  We submitted weed control lists to Alberta Transportation and CN.  Alberta Transportation had started a rotational spray program on the highways, but with the change in highway maintenance contractors from Carillion to Emcom Services, we are unsure if this program was completed or what will take place in 2019.  We completed our planned roadside spraying program and responded to all submitted weed calls.  Due to weather conditions and their effect on our adjuvants, we saw an increased purpling of grasses in the ditches.  These grasses were not dead, just discolored.  We will be testing another adjuvant with one of our herbicides in an effort to reduce the purpling effect in 2019.  About half of the fall dormant grass seeding of right-of-ways and borrow pits was completed in 2018 and the remainder will be addressed in the spring of 2019.  The MD had a new contractor complete 950 miles of roadside shoulder mowing in 2018.  The contract for roadside mowing was renewed for 2019, as per conditions in the 2018 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 Army worms and soil sampling for Wheat midge throughout the municipality.  The information collected was showcased on the provincial pest monitoring website.  The count numbers for Bertha Army worms increased this year, with some locations reaching above the first threshold level.  There could be potential for an outbreak in the coming years which is why it is important for canola producers to regularly monitor their fields during peak moth flying periods.  Diamondback moth counts were insignificant at the 2 locations of trap sites.  There has been no known Swede midge detected within the municipality.  The annual grasshopper survey was completed with 44 sites being surveyed.  Counts were average, with a number of hot spots in a few areas.  The MD of Wainwright also completed the eighth year of random Clubroot inspections on approximately 66 canola fields.  Visual evidence of Clubroot was not found on any of the randomly selected fields in 2018.  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 movement toward more sustainable crop rotations.  Bertha Army worm, Diamondback moth, grasshoppers, Wheat midge and Clubroot will all be surveyed again in 2019. 

 

VERTEBRATE PEST CONTROL

In 2018 there were no rat infestations in the MD of Wainwright.  Alberta Agriculture and Forestry re-evaluated the number of checks required which resulted in a reduction of our rat control funding from $57,700 to $43,000.  With the new definition of an inspection site, as designated by Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, all sites were re-identified 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 2019.  There were about 82 days spent on rat control in 2018 and 142 days spent on beaver control.  The Pest Control Officer cleaned out 212 culverts by hand and removed 9 dams with dynamite.  There were 117 beavers and 65 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 MD office at 780-842-4454.

ENVIRONMENTAL GRANT STREAM SECTION

MUNICIPAL PROJECTS, DEMONSTRATIONS AND EXTENSION ACTIVITIES

This year the MD of Wainwright received $39,000 from the Alberta Environmentally Sustainable Agriculture Program.  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 MD of Wainwright.   

The ASB newsletter called “The Municipal Agricultural Connection” was published every two months throughout the year and distributed to approximately 1,800 rural residences.  Copies can be accessed on the municipal website at www.mdwainwright.ca.  The MD website and the ASB newsletter provide information on upcoming events, best management practices related to agriculture and information on pests, insects and invasive weeds.  The local radio stations are used for event-based advertising and getting information out quickly to producers.  There is still interest in the Environmental Farm Plans (EFP).  EFP are a great self-assessment tool to help identify environmental risks on your operation and determine how to mitigate them.  The Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) program officially launched in April 2018.  The new program replaced the previous Growing Forward 2 program and focuses on environment sustainability and climate change, market growth and diversification, science and research, risk management and public trust.  The Alberta Government launched two additional programs, the Farm Energy and Agri-Processing (FEAP) program and the On-Farm Solar Photovoltaics (OFSPV) program.  Assistance was given to producers who were interested in applying for CAP, FEAP and OFSPV programs.  To be eligible for environmental stewardship and the climate change producer program, you must have an up-to-date completed EFP.

The Assistant Agricultural Fieldman attended Agronomy Update, FarmTech and the Alberta Invasive Species conference.  She also attended Environmental Farm Plans and Rural Extension Services staff training.  Various webinars were attended, covering a wide range of topics from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to industry updates.

The Assistant Agricultural Fieldman hosted and co-hosted a variety of workshops in 2018.  We started off the new year with a Septic Sense workshop.  The workshop had a great turnout and participants learned about the various septic systems and how to take care of them.  We continue to sit on the Grazing School for Women committee.  This year’s event was hosted by the County of Two Hills and approximately 60 ladies were in attendance.  Topics that were covered include riparian health, succession, mental health and bee boxes were built with the Agroforestry and Woodlot Extension Society.  The MD continues to partner with the Battle River Watershed Alliance Buffalo Trail Riparian Restoration program.  This year the field day was hosted by the County of Paintearth and there was a unique opportunity to collaborate with the Saskatchewan Forage Council and Ducks Unlimited on the Saskatchewan Pasture Tour.  There was a tour stop in the MD of Wainwright where the Assistant Agricultural Fieldman and Lakeland College Researcher, Laurel Thompson discussed control of Toadflax and Hoary Alyssum, along with other general noxious weed questions.

Throughout the year, we continued to receive enquiries regarding tree and shelterbelt health in the municipality.  The Assistant Agricultural Fieldman responds to these calls and assists the landowners with identification, as well as information about treatment and prevention.  The MD 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.  The MD has a tree planter and plastic mulch applicator available for ratepayers to use at no charge. 

The MD continues to support the 100 Year Farm Family Award and had 1 application this year, the Mansfield family from Wainwright.  The Mansfield family has been farming in the area since 1911.  The municipal calendar photo contest was once again a very popular event and local ratepayers 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 the Assistant Agricultural Fieldman, Tanis Ponath, at 780-842-4454.  

The above is a brief report on the activities of the Agricultural Service Board department in 2018.  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