Leduc County employs a proactive approach to weed and vegetation growth management within Leduc County's boundaries through the Industrial Vegetation Management program. By using multiple control methods such as mechanical mowing, herbicide spraying and weed inspections, the county can limit the spread of noxious weeds in an efficient and responsible way.
The Government of Alberta has declared a number of non-native, introduced plant species as "noxious" or "restricted" (prohibited noxious). These plants represent a significant threat to agriculture and the environment because they are highly invasive and highly prolific, with the ability to out-compete native vegetation and seeded crops. There are no natural control mechanisms in our environment to prevent the spread of these invaders. They represent a tremendous financial burden to agricultural landowners, dramatically reducing crop yields and increasing input costs.
Under the Weed Control Act and Regulations, noxious and restricted (prohibited noxious) weeds must be controlled or eradicated. All public and private landowners have an obligation to prevent the growth, propagation and spread of these weeds. Noxious weeds may be controlled by preventing flowering (seed production and dispersal) through cultivation, mowing, handpicking (bagging/burning), or applying selective herbicides. Restricted prohibited noxious weeds must be destroyed by killing all growing parts of the weed and by rendering the reproductive mechanisms non-viable.
Leduc County Agricultural Services offers to spray fencelines and headlands adjacent to county roadways with a residual herbicide to prevent noxious weed infestations in this area and to avoid the spread of weeds to cropland. This service is provided at no charge to the landowner; the landowner may request that internal fencelines be sprayed as well, for a fee.
Frequently, a fenceline is an obstacle for the landowner to achieve full spray coverage to the property line. As a result, there may be a narrow strip of land which is not utilized and can become a host area for noxious weed infestations. At times, Leduc County's roadside spray operators voluntarily reduce the width of their spray applications, to avoid inadvertently harming a growing crop which may be susceptible to the herbicide used in our ditches. This too, may result in a narrow strip of land which has not been sprayed by either the landowner or our spray applicators.
Leduc County Agricultural Services' Hawkweed Spraying Progam allows Leduc County to work proactively with residents to identify, control and eliminate Orange, Meadow and Mouse-Ear Hawkweed infestations. The most effective practice to manage the spread and infestation of these prohibited noxious weeds is to directly apply selective herbicides. Leduc County Agricultural Services will spray hawkweed infestations of up to five acres with an effective herbicide at a nominal charge to landowners.
Leduc County mows approximately 4,000 acres of roadside ditch within the county as part of its Industrial Vegetation Management program. The mowing helps control weeds and keeps sightlines clear at intersections. In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, a mowed ditch also reduces the potential of snow trap and drifting. Mowing also occurs within subdivisions, municipal reserve lands,the Nisku Industrial Business Park, county transfer stations and lagoons.
Leduc County Agricultural Services operates four trucks which spray herbicides on range roads and township roads where weed infestations occur. In addition to controlling weeds, the application of herbicide is intended to prevent brush from encroaching on roadways and to remove tall, undesirable broadleaf plants which impair sightlines and may present safety hazards to motorists. Removal of tall vegetation from road shoulders also reduces snow trap in winter and helps to prevent icing of roadways for safer winter driving.
Herbicide application provides more efficient and cost-effective weed/brush control compared to mechanical removal, which is expensive and labour intensive. For the protection of workers, the environment and residents, Leduc County chooses the safest herbicides available to achieve its objective. Leduc County Agricultural Services follows all directives of the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act and the guidelines established by the Professional Vegetation Managers Association. The herbicides used for roadside spraying have been accepted by the Pesticide Regulatory Management Agency.
Leduc County does not spray for beautification or aesthetics. It applies selective herbicides which target unwanted plant species, while preserving grasses. All spray applications are GPS-tracked to monitor progress, to avoid sensitive areas and to minimize the potential for misapplication.