County prefers education on weeds

Richard Froese
For the Lakeside Leader

Big Lakes County is taking steps to root out invasive species of plants. To that end, council amended its invasive species bylaw, at its June 23 meeting.

Along those same lines, council adopted new policies dealing with some specific diseases affecting peas, canola and cereal grains, for the Agricultural Service Board (ASB).

“Anytime you can keep diseases out of a municipality, it’s a good thing,” commented councillor David Marx, who also sits on the ASB.

The county (council has decided) will respond to any invasive species of plants in a positive way. Reeve Ken Matthews described the approach as, “prevention and education.”

Fusarium graminearum (which affects canola), is not a problem in the county, council heard, from acting ag fieldperson Kendra Kozdroski, and “is not found in the north very often.”

If it is found, the county will first attempt to educate farmers about it, rather than taking enforcement measures right off the bat.

“Fusarium can have a devastating impact on producers,” said Brett Hawken, the county’s director of community and protective services, adding it can lead to losses of up to $100 per acre of cereals. It is worse in areas of southern Alberta, so municipalities have been directed to regulate it based on severity in their area.

Hawken told council: “Since it is so different across the province, the (government) felt that there should not be a standard way to control it and leave it in each municipality’s hands how they want to regulate it.”

The industry recommendation on fusarium is seed lots with five per cent infection be destroyed in areas with low infection rates, and not be used for feed or seed.

Hawken said Peace Region municipalities are looking at a regional response to regulating fusarium and a bylaw template has been produced. Enforcement, he told council, is the last step of a process that begins with education.

Grain infected by fusarium. Photo courtesy of M.D. of Lesser Slave River.

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