2017 Agricultural Service Board Report

 


Board Composition:

Phil Valleau - Councillor (Chairman) James Schwindt - Agricultural Fieldman
Ted Wilkinson - Councillor Tanis Ponath - Asst. Agricultural Fieldman
Grant Rathwell - Farm Member Rod Gabrielson - Pest Control Officer
Don Jones - Farm Member  
John Campbell - Farm Member

 

LEGISLATIVE GRANT STREAM SECTION


ADMINISTRATION
During the year, the Agricultural Service Board (ASB) received grants from Alberta Agriculture in the amount of $265,059 of which $168,359 was the Provincial ASB Grant–Legislative Stream, $39,000 was the Provincial ASB Grant–Environmental Stream and $57,700 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 149 cases and 15 bottles of 2% liquid strychnine concentrate (LSC) to 86 agricultural producers in 2017. The 2% LSC has been ordered and we should have a good supply for 2018. The 2% LSC label will be valid until December 2019 and we are hoping that the product label gets renewed for additional years at that time. The MD hosted the 13th annual Rural Routes supper and social, which again proved to be a popular event, with approximately 365 ratepayers and their families attending (there were a number of no shows again this year). The 2018 Rural Routes supper will be held on August 10, 2018. 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 2017 were as follows: Ribstone 251,614 gallons, Giltedge 536,580 gallons and Irma 702,671 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 2017, the second 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, White Cockle, Baby’s Breathe and Canada Thistle found within our boundaries. Prohibited noxious weeds, Diffuse Knapweed and Hoary Alyssum, continue to be monitored and controlled where found. We continue to monitor and spray any Nodding Thistle patches that are still being found from 2011 in the original areas north of Irma. Alberta Transportation has started a rotational spray program on the highways in the area and we will continue to monitor their work to ensure we have adequate control, consistent with our municipal roadside work. We completed our planned roadside spraying program and responded to all submitted weed calls. The final new, upgraded spray truck was completed and used in its first season of spraying in 2017. The majority of the fall dormant grass seeding of right-of-ways and borrow pits was completed, with only a few miles of roadside that will be addressed in the spring of 2018. The MD had a contractor complete 900 miles of roadside shoulder mowing in 2017. As this mowing contract ended in 2017, a request for proposal for a new mowing contract was advertised in 2018. The contract has since been awarded and a new contractor will be conducting the roadside mowing in 2018.

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, 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 seventh year of random Clubroot inspections on 84 canola fields. Visual evidence of Clubroot was found and verified through lab tests for 8 fields within the MD in 2017. Four farmers discovered and reported Clubroot in their own fields and 4
fields with Clubroot were found by municipal pest inspectors during their random inspections. Pest control notices were issued for all 8 positive Clubroot locations as per the Alberta Pest Control Act and the Municipal Clubroot Policy. A Clubroot information meeting was held with approximately 41 people in attendance. Bertha Army worm, Diamondback moth, grasshoppers, Wheat midge and Clubroot will all be
surveyed again in 2018.


VERTEBRATE PEST CONTROL
In 2017 there were no rat infestations in the MD of Wainwright or in the Rural Municipality of Manitou Lake in Saskatchewan. Alberta Agriculture and Forestry changed the definition of what an inspection site is again, which changed the number of inspection sites. An updated map will be marked and printed sometime in 2018. A new three-year rat control contract will be signed in 2018 with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry that will reduce our funding for the program and the amount of inspections that are completed and where bait will be issued. This has been and will continue to be a concern to the municipality and its ratepayers moving forward. We dealt with 6 coyote calls, which involved the sharing of information and issuing of snares, but no poison was used. A total of 15 coyotes were removed by other methods. The Pest Control Officer removed 93 beaver dams by hand and no dynamite was utilized this season. A significant amount of dam removal and culvert unplugging was completed mechanically in the municipal right-of-ways. There were 212 beavers and 165 muskrats removed from areas where they were causing problems with municipal infrastructure and right-of-ways. Skunk, raccoon and magpie traps are available for municipal ratepayers to rent.


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, 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 eventbased advertising and getting information out quickly to producers. Interest in Environmental Farm Plans (EFP) was down this year. The MD continues to promote EFP as an important self-assessment tool to help identify environmental risks and mitigate them. This year the EFP switched to online only and paper copies will no longer be available to producers. A renewal process has also been developed, whereby any EFP older than 10 years will need to be renewed in order to stay active. 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. Growing Forward 2 will officially be closed on March 31, 2018. The new Canadian Agriculture Partnership is a five-year, $3 billion investment by federal, provincial and territorial governments to strengthen the agriculture and
agri-food sector. Stay tuned for more information in 2018.


The Assistant Agricultural Fieldman attended FarmTech, the Alberta Invasive Species conference, Beavers in our Landscape hosted by Cows & Fish and various crop tours. She also attended workshops for Environmental Farm Plans and Rural Extension Services. The MD participated in the Alberta Farm Safety Week in the local newspaper and submitted articles covering healthy water wells and the safe use of pesticides, fertilizers and fuel. The Assistant Agricultural Fieldman hosted and co-hosted a variety of workshops in 2017. The Livestock Workshop for Ladies had a great turnout, with speakers presenting on vaccination and nutrition for pre/post calving. The MD, along with Flagstaff County and the County of
Paintearth, co-hosted a General Tree Seminar which had 40 participants. The MD also co-hosted a workshop with the County of Vermilion River, featuring grazing consultant Jim Gerrish. The Assistant Agricultural Fieldman hosted an Invasive Species and Riparian Field Day with the Battle River Watershed Alliance to launch the Buffalo Trail Riparian Restoration program. The MD of Wainwright partnered with the Lakeland College research team this year to complete herbicide trials on the prohibited noxious weed Hoary Alyssum and noxious weed Toadflax. A field day was hosted in August to showcase the trials on Toadflax.


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 McMann family farm from Chauvin. The McMann 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 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 2017. 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