Each year, Sturgeon County appoints four Agricultural Inspectors.
How Weeds Spread
- Deliberately spread by humans.
- Accidentally spread by humans, such as through agricultural produce, construction and landscaping materials, livestock movement, machinery and vehicles and waste disposal.
- Naturally spread by birds, other animals, water and wind.
Weed Control Methods
Manual and Mechanical Control
Another method of weed control used by Sturgeon County – and by most people who do any amount of lawn care – is manual and mechanical weed control. These methods include manually removing weeds, otherwise called “handpicking”. Other forms of mechanical control include mowing, cutting, or working up the soil. These methods are most often used in and around obstacles, environmentally sensitive areas such as water bodies, or to target smaller patches of more difficult-to-manage weeds.
Unfortunately, some weed species cannot be controlled in this way. This may be because of their ability to reproduce from all parts of the plant, such as flowering rush, or from their perennial growth habit, such as Canada thistle. Other times it is because the infestation is simply too big for one person to tackle effectively. This is where other weed control options must be considered.
Biological control methods use other organisms to control weed or vegetation growth. These species are usually the ‘natural enemy’ of the weed species – an insect or disease that evolved with them. Most weed species are introduced from other countries, and their natural enemies did not get introduced with them.
Biological control methods can include:
- Livestock grazing: for this to be successful, the grazing must be managed closely. When not managed, livestock grazing can cause weeds to flourish. Goats and sheep can be used to graze weeds that are toxic to other livestock, such as leafy spurge.
- Insects: research is being done on many weed species, including yellow toadflax, leafy spurge, common tansy, and Canada thistle. Introducing insect species is a complicated process and not many species are approved for introduction.
- Plant pathogens: some plant species have diseases that can control their spread. Introducing pathogenic species is an even more complicated process and very few pathogen species are approved for introduction.
Biological control options are long-term strategies, and one does not see results quickly. They can be a good option for sensitive areas, but often thrive in very specific conditions. Sturgeon County continues to find integrated pest management solutions for controlling noxious weeds, and biological control is a consideration. The Alberta Invasive Species Council (AISC) has several biological control agent projects active.
Use of herbicides is sometimes necessary to control noxious and prohibited noxious weeds and other undesirable vegetation on municipal property including lands and County road allowances. All products used in our programs are registered for use by the Health Canada Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) and are used per the label and the Alberta Environmental Code of Practice for Pesticides. Sometimes these applications are performed by professional contractors and other times they are performed by Internal County staff who receive specialized training and certification to ensure they apply the products in a way that ensures the safety of themselves and members of the public. There are times when Degelman One-Pass Systems are utilized by trained operators to treat brush and other unwanted vegetation at the time of mowing.
When applications take place in open spaces and parks accessible to the public, signage is used to ensure they are aware of the application and of any applicable precautions or entry restrictions.
Limited Control Area Agreements
Landowners/tenants who wish to restrict herbicide applications on municipal lands adjacent to their property can enter into a Limited Control Area Agreement with Sturgeon County. These agreements are valid for the year that they are issued and must be renewed annually. Landowners/tenants are responsible for all weed and grass control on lands for which their Limited Control Area Agreement applies.
Aquatic Weed Management
Aquatic weeds – anything below the high watermark – are not managed by the municipality and are under the purview of the provincial Government. If you see a potential aquatic weed infestation, or have concerns contact the Government of Alberta.
What about algae? Algae occurs naturally during warm summer months and can last into early fall. It is important to keep healthy amounts of algae as they provide oxygen and food to other organisms like fish living in our stormwater management facilities.
Algae and weeds are part of a natural wetland system. However, fertilizers from lawns enter the stormwater ponds when it rains giving the plants extra nutrients to grow beyond their natural size and population. When this excess material begins to decompose, it uses oxygen from the stormwater pond, which can harm fish and other critters living in the water.
Some blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) can produce toxins and via swimming or drinking can make humans and animals sick. If a blue-green algal bloom occurs, residents will be informed, and notices will be placed at the affected waterbodies. Alberta Health Services monitors recreational waterbodies for blue-green algae.
Each year, Sturgeon County appoints Agricultural Inspectors. Their job is to:
- Monitor all properties in Sturgeon County (private and public) for the presence of noxious or prohibited noxious weeds
- Monitor residential properties for the presence of excessively long or unsightly vegetation which is >15 cm in height
- Educate the public and landowners about regulated weed species
- Assist landowners in creating a plan to rid their properties of invasive species in the event of an infestation on their property
- Issue notices and compliance orders if required