County waits for soil test after herbicide blown onto private property

Foxtail/File photo
Written by Stu Salkeld

The County of Stettler Agriculture Service Board (ASB) is waiting for the results of a soil test after winds apparently blew herbicide onto a producer’s crop. The report was made at the Sept. 28 regular ASB meeting.

The board is comprised of county council and is chaired by Coun. Les Stulberg.

During Manager of Agriculture Services Quinton Beaumont’s regular report, board member James Nibourg noted in agenda documentation that some ASB staff had possibly sprayed herbicide on private land in the eastern part of the municipality.

Beaumont stated soil is currently being tested in that case; he noted wind carried herbicide through some trees and about 75 feet onto a producer’s land. Beaumont reported that under one acre of alfalfa was lost and stated that the county’s crop loss policy will cover all of that.

Beaumont stated that the property owner in question is concerned the land is now sterile but the manager disagreed because grass can be observed growing there.

The manager further noted a representative of the herbicide manufacturer has scheduled an in-person inspection of the site in October and the agriculture services department is currently waiting for the soil test to come back.

Botha lagoon
Beaumont gave an update on reclamation work at the Botha lagoon, and stated about 16 acres were worked recently. He noted the plan is to lower salinity by adding organics; the plan also includes seeding grass on the berm and spraying herbicide for foxtail barley in the fall of 2023.

Nibourg asked if burning is an effective way of handling foxtail to which Beaumont answered yes, it’s very effective as fire destroys the foxtail seed but fire can be limited by very dry weather conditions.

Board member Paul McKay asked if foxtail is an annual to which Beaumont answered foxtail barley is a perennial and doesn’t act like an annual which is why killing the root is the best option.

Spray request
Board members debated a brush spraying request made by Coun. Dave Grover, who was absent from the meeting.

Beaumont gave a brief report, noting Grover had originally requested herbicide be sprayed to control trees at two intersections where brush was interfering with sight lines.

Beaumont stated that to clarify the intersections involved staff met Grover to examine them and Grover suggested spraying a bit more.

However, Beaumont noted that at a previous ASB meeting board members stated they didn’t want any new sections sprayed, only sections where brush spraying had already been conducted by the ASB. Hence, Beaumont stated he brought the issue back to the board for clarification as it seemed two pods of herbicide would be needed to address Grover’s request.

Board member Justin Stevens asked why not just remove the trees causing the sight line concerns, as spraying them with herbicide doesn’t necessarily remove the entire problem.

“We have to get rid of the trees if it’s a sight line issue,” said Stevens.

Board members voted unanimously in favour of accepting Grover’s request for information.

Some good news
During his report the manager of agriculture services noted clubroot surveys had been completed and Stettler County had zero visual positives.

Clubroot is a noxious weed that preys on canola crops and once established is difficult to remove.

Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism Initiative reporter
ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.