The Agriculture Department has a responsibility under the Weed Control Act of Alberta to ensure that we control all noxious and prohibited-noxious weeds on our property. This includes lands we own, as well as roadside ditches. We strive to maintain a balance between our responsibility under the Act as well as our responsibility to be environmentally responsible.
We offer a No Spray Program that allows landowners to accept responsibility for weed, brush and tall vegetation control on ditches adjacent to land they own. We also strive to use herbicides that are less harmful to the environment, particularly bee and insect populations. We choose herbicides based on modern chemistry and lower application rates, and we only spot-spray roads. This means we only apply herbicides to the weeds that we see, not broadcast spray each ditch. While this allows us to be more environmentally sensitive, it also means we may not get every weed out there. Therefore, we continue to patrol our roads season-long to ensure we haven't missed any major weed patches.
As well, we keep in mind the best time for effective control of each species we target. Many species are best controlled early in the season, but the best control of Canada thistle is obtained with a late summer application, as this controls the roots of the plant, which is its most significant means of spread. We also consider the situation around why the weed is there in the first place. If the area is going to continually be disturbed, we may not choose to control with herbicides, as we will only be spraying and spraying and spraying. We may choose to regularly mow the area until such time as the disturbance is finished. Also, some plants, like scentless chamomile, are best removed by weeding.
If you have any questions about our vegetation control program, please call the Agricultural Fieldman Sonja Raven at 780-532-9727.