2016 Agricultural Service Board Report

 


Board Composition:

Myron Zajic - Councillor (Chairman) James Schwindt - Agricultural Fieldman
Phil Valleau - Councillor Tanis Ponath - Asst. Agricultural Fieldman
Don Jones - Farm Member Rod Gabrielson - Pest Control Officer
Neil Pugh - Farm Member  
Grant Rathwell - Farm Member

 

ADMINISTRATION

During the year, the Agricultural Service Board (ASB) received grants from Alberta Agriculture in the amount of $266,059.46 of which $168,359.46 was the Provincial ASB Grant–Legislative Stream, $40,000 was the Provincial ASB Grant–Environmental Stream and $57,700 was the Rat Control Grant. We had our 5 year review meeting and tour with Alberta Agriculture ASB Grant Manager. The ASB continued to support the Town of Wainwright’s noxious weed control program in the amount of $4,000. In addition, the ASB continued to support the Canadian Forces Base ASU Wainwright with their prohibited noxious and noxious weed control program in 2016. The Municipal District (MD) of Wainwright sold 249 cases of liquid strychnine concentrate (LSC) to 122 agricultural producers in 2016. The 2% LSC has been ordered and we should have a good supply for 2017. The MD hosted the twelfth annual Rural Routes supper and social, which again proved to be a very popular event, with approximately 400 ratepayers and their families attending. The 2017 Rural Routes supper will be held on August 11, 2017. 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 2016 were as follows: Ribstone 137,302 gallons, Giltedge 639,740 gallons and Irma 675,906 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 2016, the third year in a three year rotational roadside spray program was completed. Tordon 101 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, White Cockle, Baby’s Breathe and Canada Thistle found within our boundaries.  Prohibited noxious weed Diffuse Knapweed was found and Hoary Alyssum continues to have new sites popping up in areas east of Wainwright in Division 4.  We continue to monitor and spray any Nodding Thistle patches that are still being found from 2011 in the original areas north of Irma.  We issued 9 weed notices to Alberta Transportation and had 1 notice that was in non-compliance.  As a result, a contractor was hired to complete the work and Alberta Transportation was responsible for this cost plus municipal costs.  We completed our planned roadside spraying program and responded to all submitted weed calls.  The MD is building our final new spray truck for use in 2017 and is in the process of selling the remaining 2004 spray unit.  Due to weather conditions, the fall dormant grass seeding of right-of-ways and borrow pits did not occur as scheduled and will be completed in the spring of 2017.  In 2016 the MD had a contractor complete approximately 896 miles of roadside shoulder mowing.   

The ASB continued to participate in partnership with Alberta Agriculture in their pest surveillance program.  The Assistant Agricultural Fieldman focused on setting up traps for Diamondback moths, Swedge 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 worm moths were low, however canola producers should still regularly monitor their fields during peak moth flying periods.  Diamondback moth counts were insignificant at the 2 locations of trap sites.  The annual grasshopper survey was completed with 48 sites being surveyed; counts were average with a number of hot spots in a few areas.  The MD of Wainwright also completed the sixth year of random Clubroot inspections on 44 canola fields.  No visual symptoms of Clubroot were found at any of the inspection locations.  Bertha Army worm, Diamondback moth, grasshoppers, Wheat midge and Clubroot will all be surveyed again in 2017.  

VERTEBRATE PEST CONTROL

In 2016 there were no rat infestations in the Rural Municipality of Manitou Lake in Saskatchewan or in the MD of Wainwright.  We continued the process of using GPS to track the inspection sites that the Pest Control Officer checks for rats.  The definition of inspection site was changed by Alberta Agriculture and Forestry so there will be an updated inspection sites map at the end of 2017.  We dealt with 4 coyote calls which involved the sharing of information and issuing of snares but no poison was used.  A total of 25 coyotes were removed by other methods.  The Pest Control Officer removed 67 beaver dams by hand and 5 dams with dynamite.  In addition, he removed 87 beavers and 65 muskrats from culverts within municipal right-of-ways.  

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. 

MUNICIPAL PROJECTS, DEMONSTRATIONS AND EXTENSION ACTIVITIES

This year the MD of Wainwright received $40,000 from the Alberta Environmentally Sustainable Agriculture Program.  The focus for this grant money is to provide information and programs within three priority management areas:  Water for Life, Climate Change, and support for the Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) process.   

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, along with information regarding insects, pests, invasive weeds and programs run by the Agricultural Service Board.  Newsletters showcase activities within the municipality, upcoming events and best management practices related to agriculture.  The local radio stations are used for event-based advertising and getting information out quickly to producers.  Interest in Environmental Farm Plans (EFP) increased this year which is always good to see since the binder is a useful self-assessment tool to help identify environmental risks and mitigate them.  We continue to give support to producers during the process of completing their plan.  This year the EFP process started a shift to the online version.  The response has been good so far, however rural internet problems and age can sometimes be a challenge.  Assistance was provided to producers who were interested in applying for Growing Forward programs.  Interest was shown in a wide variety of programs including solar energy, water management and livestock welfare.  

The Assistant Agricultural Fieldman attended FarmTech, the Alberta Invasive Species conference and a wetlands workshop with cows and fish.  She also attended workshops for Environmental Farm Plans and Rural Extension Services.  The MD participated in the Alberta Farm Safety Week and submitted articles covering healthy water wells and septic systems.  The Assistant Agricultural Fieldman hosted a Livestock Workshop for Ladies, a Working Well Workshop and a Tree Information Session in 2016.  All 3 workshops were hosted in Wainwright with great turnouts.  The Livestock Workshop focused on calving, verified beef and BSE surveillance.  The Working Well Workshop discussed proper well care and the Tree Information Session showcased shelter belt rejuvenation.  Along with other municipalities in our region, the MD of Wainwright organised another successful Grazing School for Women, hosted in the County of Flagstaff at the Circle Square Ranch.  Two farms that showcased holistic management practices were toured.  The ladies heard presentations on livestock handling, McDonald’s sustainable beef program and grazing management.  Over 40 ladies from the surrounding area attended the school.The above is a brief report on the activities of the Agricultural Service Board Department in 2016.

Throughout the year, we continued to receive enquiries regarding tree and shelter belt health in the municipality.  The Assistant Agricultural Fieldman responded to these calls and assisted the landowners with identification, as well as information packages 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 shelter belt.  The MD continues to support the 100 Year Farm Family Award and had 2 applications this year, the Abbott and Trefiak family farms from Edgerton.  They were presented with plaques at the annual Rural Routes supper.  The municipal calendar photo contest was, as always, a very popular event amongst ratepayers and the decision to choose the top 14 photos to showcase in the municipal calendar is always extremely difficult.  Local ratepayers quickly picked up all 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 2016.  We extend our thanks to the municipal Council, administration, staff and the members of the Agricultural Service Board for their cooperation, guidance and assistance in 2016.  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