Agriculture Services

Agriculture Services

The Agricultural Service Board believes in the strengthening of our agricultural community by promoting, maintaining, and improving the agricultural industry.

Our mission is to promote and apply effective pest management strategies that are sustainable.  Provide extension programs and materials that can improve the sustainability of the family farm both economically and environmentally.  Administer the ASB Act and all other agricultural legislation as required.

The Director of Environmental Services is the Administrative Officer of the ASB responsible to the Agricultural Service Board, who is made up of County Council and two members at large.

The County comprises a total area of 837,810 ac with 50% of the land being pasture. Cattle are present on 71% of farms according to the 2021 Census of Agriculture. 

Agriculture Service Board

The Agriculture Service Board is guided by the ASB Act. They are also responsible for administering and enforcing the:

Weed Control Act

Agricultural Pest Act

Soil Conservation Act

Animal Health Act - Assist in the control of livestock diseases

ASB’s become advisors to the council in the development and promotion of agricultural policies that meet the needs of the county. They are to review and evaluate established programs on an annual basis. The ASB’s are also responsible for promoting and advertising its agricultural programs and encourage good farming practices and farm safety.

In 2024 the members of the ASB are:

Maurice Wiart, Chairman - Councillor
Stan Schulmeister, Vice Chair - Councillor
Dale Norton - Councillor
Diane Elliott - Councillor
George Glazier - Councillor
Sandy Shipton - Councillor
Terry Vockeroth - Councillor
Dale Pilsworth - Member-at-Large
Dan Bunbury - Member-at-Large

ASB Programs

The ASB has identified 5 primary programs that it feels are important to the area.

Industrial Vegetation Management Program

  • The goal of the program is to reduce the perennial weed population, control the regrowth of brush, and develop efficient and environmentally sustainable ways to operate these programs.
  • The purpose of our IVM Program is to allow clear sight lines to signs & intersections, reduce snow accumulation, promote road drainage and drying, facilitate snow removal, control weeds, and ensure that wildlife grazing at the roadside or preparing to cross the roadway are clearly visible to motorists.

Crop Disease & Pests

  • The Agricultural Pests Act is enabling legislation that allows the local authority to deal with native and introduced pests which affect agricultural production. It is your responsibility to prevent the establishment of, control, or destroy a nuisance on the land.
  • Under the Agricultural Pests Act, the following can be declared a pest or nuisance if the Minister considers that they are destroying or harming, or are likely to destroy or harm, any land, livestock or property in all or part of Alberta:
    • Animal
    • Bird
    • Insect
    • Plant
    • Disease
    • Wild boar where at large in Alberta
  • The Weed Control Act lists weeds that are a threat to Alberta’s Environment, economy and society. They have the potential to degrade habitats, reduce biodiversity, increase erosion, cause wildfires, reduce property value, create obstacles to international trade and cause reduction in productivity of agricultural land.


  • Road construction and gravel pit reclamation is an important part of our program. Pre and Post site inspections are conducted as part of the reclamation planning.
  • Our objective is to ensure the establishment and growth of species compatible with the intended end land use. The vegetation should be self-sustaining in uncultivated areas, or sustainable under normal management in cultivated areas.

Resource Management Programming

  • Facilitate the producer’s completion of Environmental Farm Plans.
  • Promote and facilitate use of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership Program.
  • Promote riparian area restoration and preservation.
  • Promote shelterbelt planting and rejuvenation.
  • Promote the sustainability of farming in the County through the continuing education of producers in best management and environmental stewardship practices.


  • Erosion is a natural process often accelerated by farming activities that leave the soil surface bare and susceptible to the forces of wind and water. Erosion moves topsoil, reduces both the level of soil organic matter and available crop nutrients and contributes to the breakdown of soil structure.

Industrial Vegetation Management Program

ASB Mower
ASB Mower

To accomplish this, the roadside can be divided into 4 different areas. 

  1. Road Edge – vegetation free zone to facilitate maintenance, drainage, visibility, and weeds transported by vehicles and machinery.
  2. Road Slope & Bottom– keep free of brush and perennial weeds. Important for line of sight to intersections and wildlife, and invasive weed control.  For those residents who hay the ditches it is important to control weeds to prevent their spread.
  3. Back Slope – control problem perennial weeds to prevent spreading into adjacent land and larger trees.
  4. Fence Lines – lower maintenance required unless vegetation is creating problems.

Agricultural Encroachment on Municipal ROW

The minimal acceptable standard allowed for cultivation and planting of annual and perennial crops adjacent to a right-of-way will be one metre set back from the "Toe" of the slope (bottom of the ditch) of the developed road. Any landowner/occupant agriculturally encroaching upon a right-of-way will be notified to stay a minimum of one metre from the "Toe" of the slope or further, dependent upon how it impacts the integrity of the road. Any crops found within the right-of-way as a result of non-compliance by the landowner/occupant, will be removed as part of the County's regular vegetation control program.

Roadside Spraying

Herbicides are our most effective method of controlling plant growth. Herbicide selection is based on plant type, environment, and effectiveness. Method of control is spot spraying as well as some blanket spraying with the use of chemical injection equipment on our spray trucks.

  • Herbicide selection allows for a very broad spectrum of control as well as having the benefit of a longer residual property
  • Because we operate on a 3-year rotation it is important that we use a herbicide that has some residual properties, which reduces the chemical load on the soil and the amount of manpower and equipment required to remove unwanted vegetation
  • Other herbicides are used as well based on efficacy, cost, and environment

Roadside Mowing

Rotary mowers are the preferred method of cutting as they are less of a fire hazard and able to keep the grass more in the ditch compared to the disc bine. ASB staff mark the rocks with a GPS as they go, and they are picked up the following May. Please avoid piling rocks or any other objects in the ditch as they are sometimes not visible. ASB would also ask that any gates that you would like to leave open please have leaning up against the fence.

Mowing begins in the middle of July and staff are directed to mow the pavement first. The County tries to keep the mowers together in one division and rotates around the roadside spraying program.  All regularly maintained roads are mowed annually and the backroads of the Divisions that were just sprayed. The backroads are mowed in the same rotation as the spraying (1/3rd each year).

Crop Disease + Pests

There are two types of pests under the Agricultural Pest Act:

  1. Declared Pest –measures shall be taken to prevent, destroy or control
  2. Nuisance –measures maybe taken to prevent, destroy or control


There are many insects that affect various crops throughout Alberta. High risk insect pest species with the potential to cause major crop losses that are actively monitored, surveyed and predicted. The County performs a grasshopper survey and Battle River Research Group and Alberta Agriculture looks for:

Other crop pests that can cause major damage but are not looked for in the County are:

Another source of good information is the Alberta Insect Pest Monitoring Network.

Early detection of harmful crop pests allows producers an opportunity to utilize available control measures or plan rotations to manage outbreaks.


There are two crop diseases that have been declared pests under the Agricultural Pest Act.

Clubroot - since its discovery in the first canola field near Edmonton in 2003, it has spread to several counties in Alberta. Clubroot continues to spread and is a significant concern for Alberta producers. The County has a Clubroot policy and it generally follows the Alberta Clubroot Management Plan that Alberta Agriculture and Forestry put out to minimize yield losses and reduce the further spread and buildup in Alberta.

Blackleg was once a devastating disease that commanded the respect of all canola producers in Western Canada 20 to 30 years ago. The disease received less attention after the introduction of resistant canola cultivars that essentially eliminated the disease risks, especially when sound crop rotation practices were employed with the resistant cultivars. However, blackleg disease is now making a comeback across the Canadian prairies and once again getting lots of attention from those involved or interested in canola production.

The County is also concerned with Fusarium Head Blight also known as scab or tombstone, is a fungal disease of wheat (including durum), barley, oats, and other small cereal grains and corn. Infection of the harvested grain and/or mycotoxin production negatively affects livestock feed, the baking and milling quality of wheat, biofuel (ethanol) production, and the malting and brewing qualities of malt barley. More information about this disease can be found at Fusarium Head Blight of Barley and Wheat and at Let’s Manage It.

Most disease pests may be prevented or limited by lengthening crop rotations – shortened rotations dramatically increase the risk of infection.

Other Pests

Agricultural Pests include Norway Rats and Wild Boar when at large.

Agricultural Nuisances are things like CoyotesSkunksMagpies, and Richardson’s Ground Squirrels. Although this is not a complete list of what is considered a pest and/or nuisance but rather more of the species the County is concerned about.

Weed Management

In the Weed Control Act of Alberta, weeds have been classified into two categories based on their ability to spread and thrive at the expense of agricultural crops or native vegetation and the information from other provinces and countries that have experienced the severity of the problems that the weeds cause. These categories are prohibited noxious weeds, which shall be destroyed and noxious weeds, which shall be controlled.

Prohibited Noxious Weeds

  • The rationale for the prohibited noxious category is to prevent the establishment and/or entry of new weed species into Alberta.
  • Weeds that are in the prohibited noxious category are generally not found in Alberta or found in small numbers.
  • Prohibited noxious weeds can become economically devastating and have a high potential threat of invasion and therefore they must be destroyed.

Noxious Weeds

  • The rationale for the noxious category is to control and prevent the further spread of these weeds in Alberta.
  • Generally, weeds designated as noxious are present across the province, but not necessarily widespread. For example, they may be present in many municipalities, but not abundant, or they may be abundant in a few municipalities, but scarce or even non-existent in other municipalities.
  • Control measures for noxious weeds are limited and therefore, further spread has the potential to cause significant yield losses.

Under the Weed Control Act the following is a list of Prohibited Noxious and Noxious Weeds. Provincially Regulated Weeds

Weed of Concern

Absinth Wormwood is a weed the County is watching as it does pose a threat to landowners. This plant has become an increasing problem in the County and the ASB has been spraying along roadsides and on private land in small patches.

The major weeds that the County is dealing with are Scentless ChamomileToadflax, and White Cockle, but they are not the only ones.

For small patches of persistent problem weeds the county does offer Private Land Spraying. This is limited to 10 acres (4 hectares) or less as the County doesn’t have the necessary equipment and the cost is listed in the Schedule of Fees. Landowners are encouraged to contact ASB staff regarding any weed concerns or you can also Report A Weed and ASB staff will follow up on in it.


It is critical for good reclamation that the quantity and quality of topsoil and subsoil be preserved during soil salvage. If this is not done, the reclamation will be more difficult, take more work, and be more expensive. The site will take longer to re-vegetate satisfactorily and meet the vegetation requirements of the criteria.

ASB staff try to seed directly behind the construction crews to allow the grass blend with the best chance of establishment possible.  By seeding as soon as construction has been completed, ASB staff reduce the number of weeds that can establish and take advantage of what nutrients and moisture are available.

The seeding program begins in May and depending on the amount of precipitation will end in late July early August.  Those areas that are not seeded in the summer may be done in October, depending on weather or they are done the following spring to take advantage of the available moisture.

Certified #1 seed is used whenever possible along with the seed certificate. Currently the Roadside Blend and Native Blend is as follows:

Roadside Blend

  • 55% Crested Wheatgrass
  • 25% Smooth Bromegrass
  • 20% Creeping Red Fescue

Native Blend

  • 40% Meadow Brome
  • 30% Western Wheatgrass
  • 30% Northern Wheatgrass

On private land if the landowner has something specific, they would like seeded other than the above two blends they can get ahold of the Director of Environmental Services.

Resource Management Program

Although the ASB has not made any definitive plans staff is planning on:

  • Providing technical expertise and assist producers in completing the Environmental Farm Plan process and promote the EFP program.
    • The Assistant Agricultural Fieldman is in the process of becoming an EFP Technician
  • Providing technical expertise and assist producers in completing the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) applications as well as promoting awareness of the programs available.
  • Continue to be an active member of the Battle River Watershed Alliance’s Buffalo Trail Riparian Restoration Project.
  • Assisting producers with shelterbelt design and planting as well as implement an Shelterbelt Rejuvenation Program.
  • Host, sponsor, and/or otherwise participate in extension events within the County or immediate region relating to a variety of educational topics including but not limited to environmental stewardship, livestock management, soil management, pest & pesticide management, farm economics, and farm energy efficiency.


Wind Erosion In the County of Paintearth in 2004

Wind Erosion

Wind erosion is caused by wind picking up loose particles that batter the ground as they fly by, causing additional particles to become loose and fly away. Wind erosion damaged an estimated 900,000 hectares (2 million acres) of agricultural soils in Alberta during the 1980s. Strong and sustained winds along with dry, bare soils contributed to serious soil loss.

Many individuals have devoted countless hours to improving the management of prairie soils. Numerous improvements in farm machinery, crop varieties, fertilizers, herbicides and other crop inputs have helped farmers reduce wind erosion.

To control wind erosion:

  • maintain a vegetative cover, either growing plants or crop residues,
  • reduce cultivated fallow,
  • reduce or eliminate tillage,
  • if you do till, choose a tillage implement that buries less residue and reduce tillage speed,
  • plant and maintain field shelterbelts.
  • avoid overgrazing

Water Erosion

Snowmelt and rainfall are the driving forces for water erosion on the prairies. Bare soils are very vulnerable to erosion. Steep slopes and long, uninterrupted slopes are especially prone to water erosion.

Modifying tillage practices to keep crop residue on the surface can greatly reduce erosion. A crop residue cover also conserves soil moisture and improves soil tilth and fertility for better crop production. Costs for conservation tillage systems are usually similar to or lower than costs for conventional tillage systems over the long term. Preventing soil erosion helps to ensure the sustainability of the farm operation.

Grassed waterways, drop structures, lined channels or terraces are used to control more severe water erosion problems. Technical advice may be needed to implement some of these special measures.


Tree Management

Planting Trees in Dry Conditions

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Although trees enhance snow capture and moisture retention through slower melt and reduced evaporation rates, drought conditions make establishing trees more challenging. It can be very difficult to care for and maintain trees during times of normal moisture, but when conditions are dry, it is all the more crucial that adequate planning and preparations are made.

Before you design and plant your shelterbelt, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is there adequate soil moisture?
  2. What type of soils do I have?
  3. What soil moisture conserving techniques such as mulch can be used?
  4. Do I have a secure and dependable water source for watering or to run a trickle irrigation system?

Water is the most limiting factor for tree survival and growth during drought conditions. Trees use water during photosynthesis and lose water during transpiration. Water shortages effect newly planted trees as well as established trees. Prolonged drought conditions can lead to tree decline, increased mortality, shorter life span, and can make trees more susceptible to pest problems. Supplementary watering should be part of a tree maintenance plan, especially during hot windy periods in summer and just before freeze-up, to reduce desiccation and mortality during the winter.

The best time to water is early in the morning, during the evening hours, or at night. During these hours, trees have a chance to replenish their moisture when they are not stressed by hot temperatures and this also allows for the most effective use of water with less evaporative losses. The best way to water is gradually with a soaker hose or by trickle or drip irrigation. Consider using an organic (e.g. straw, woodchips) or plastic mulch to conserve moisture and reduce losses. Mulches can be used in conjunction with irrigation systems.

Recently planted trees require more watering than established plantings. For larger trees, watering should take place below the crown and extending a few feet beyond the drip line of the branches which is generally the area under the tree shaded by the foliage. The amount of water depends upon the soil type, tree species, temperatures, and the amount and timing of previous precipitation. Trees planted in soils that are sandy textured, low in organic matter or on slopes will require more water. Trees in heavy texture soils (e.g. clay) with greater water-holding capacity require less water.

Newly planted trees should be watered once a week in the growing season if there is limited rainfall. Supplemental watering may be needed in established plantings during prolonged droughts, especially in soils with poor water holding capacity. A few good deep waterings are more beneficial than many light, shallow waterings. Light waterings encourage shallow rooting that can result in greater damage during lengthy droughts.

Greater water volume and deeper watering at less frequent intervals is recommended for healthy tree roots. Note: Check the quality of your water (well or dugout) before applying to trees as poor quality water (i.e. high in salts) can negatively impact tree growth. Problems can also occur if water with a conductivity rating of > 750 micromhos/cm is used to water trees.

Adequate site preparation and controlling weed competition is extremely critical during the first three years after planting. New plantings require maintenance for survival and optimum growth. Competing vegetation reduces water and nutrient availability, space and light thereby limiting plant growth and increasing the time required to reach your desired goals.

Site preparation one year before planting is recommended for successful tree establishment and growth. Perennial weeds and grasses are much more difficult to control after the trees and shrubs have been planted. Focusing on removing perennial weeds before planting allows for the use of a wider range of tillage and herbicide control options.

The soil should be prepared to a garden tilth and to a depth of 15 to 20 cm (6 to 8 in.) in the year prior to planting. Stake the rows before planting. Proper site preparation is extremely important if you are planning to apply mulch to the site.

If planning on installing plastic mulch, prepare the planting strip to a width of 2.5 m (8 ft.); otherwise the worked strip only needs to be 1.2 m (4ft.) wide. Plastic mulch is a very effective method to control weeds within the tree row and to reduce soil moisture loss from surface evaporation and weed competition. Use of either organic or inorganic mulches will greatly improve plant survival in drought conditions. However, during extended dry periods, all tree species may require supplemental watering regardless of whether mulch has been used or not.

Eliminate weed competition, water regularly, and protect trees from damage by wildlife and livestock. Good maintenance will positively influence tree survival and performance. Weed control methods include mulching, mechanical cultivation, hand hoeing and herbicide application. For more information on weed control, please refer to the AAFC publication “Controlling Weeds in Your Agroforestry Planting.” Note: Within the tree planting, till the soil to a depth no greater than 10 cm (3 to 4 in). Deep tillage will damage roots leaving the tree susceptible to drought and pests.

Fertilizing is not necessary and is not recommended for newly planted shelterbelts. For farmyard shelterbelts planted adjacent to lawns, avoid using fertilizers on the lawn with weed-killing additives, such as dicamba, that may damage the trees. Use extreme care when applying herbicides on cropland next to shelterbelts to avoid drift damage to the trees.

Planning and Design

Tree Pests

Insects are one of the largest divisions of the animal kingdom. Though most species of insect do not cause harm to trees. It is important to be able to recognize which kinds of insects are causing problems in order to choose the appropriate control measures to mitigate further damage.

Insect Pests

Aspen Leafroller

This year like in in the previous year there is many poplars being affected by the aspen leafroller. They roll themselves in leaves for protection and to pupate. The caterpillar is green with a brown or black head and is about 3/4” to inch long. Damage to the trees is temporary and will not kill the trees. To control them you need to spray a dormant oil in the early spring as the leaf protects them from spraying.

Poplar Borer

Signs of this insect are large holes with sawdust or shredded wood coming out of the holes and piled at the base of the trunk. Sap leaks down and stains the bark brown attracting other insects. The insect prefers trees with a diameter of about 4”, in low density stands. The insect has a long life cycle, extending over 3 to 4 years.

Yellow-headed Spruce Sawfly

Produces a green larva with a prominent yellow or amber coloured head and thin grey stripes running the length of the body. An insecticide application is generally the most effective method of control.

Spruce Budworm

Majority of the feeding is done by mid-to-late June. The mature larvae are about ¾” to an inch long, with a black head and a reddish brown body that is lighter on the sides and has two rows of whitish spots on the back. Pupation occurs at feeding sites or on the lower branches. The moths emerge in late June to early August and lay their eggs in masses (15-50 eggs) on the underside of the needles in mid-to-upper crown and then hatch in about 10 days.

Other Insects

Tree Diseases

Black Knot - Black Knot is a very common disease of plants in the genus Prunus (plums, cherries, etc.). The most distinguishing symptom of Black Knot is the characteristic black, tar-like swellings that develop on branches of the infected plant. This disease reduces the aesthetic value of affected specimens, as infections spread rapidly; high levels may result in the eventual death of the plant.

Needle Cast - On Colorado blue spruce, infected needles often show symptoms of yellow mottling in mid-to-late summer. Needles progressively turn bright yellow, purplish-pink and finally brown. Cool, rainy weather or long periods of needle wetness provide conditions for disease development. Branches that lose first-year needles for 3 to 4 consecutive years may die.

Poplar Leaf Spot - Leaf spot spores are released in spring and early summer from fruiting bodies that overwintered on fallen leaves or infected shoots. These spread by wind and rain to newly emerging leaves or young shoots. In summer and fall, spores produced on leaf and stem lesions spread to other plants and cause secondary infections. Repeated outbreaks can cause branch dieback and make trees susceptible to infection by other pathogens or pests.

Fireblight - Is a highly destructive disease of several members of the rose family. It is native to North America and in Alberta, this disease can affect many highly desirable hardy ornamentals and fruit-producing species in the rose family including apple, crabapple, cotoneaster, hawthorn, pear, mountain ash, raspberry, saskatoon berry, plum and cherry. It is particularly destructive to species that are not native to Canada such as crabapple, apple and pear.

Bronze Leaf - It infects various poplar species and hybrids; specifically, trembling aspen, Swedish columnar aspen and tower poplar. Symptoms typically appear in midsummer. Spores are dispersed from April-June when rainfall is present and temperatures are around 18 C. Once infected, the fungus moves systemically within the leaf's vascular system, making it difficult to control.

Mammal & Bird Pests

Other Resources

Browning of Evergreens

Pests of Deciduous Trees and Shrubs

Pests of Coniferous Trees and Shrubs

Aspen Defoliators

Pests of Small Fruit

Agroforestry Diseases and Pests

ASB Price List


Rental Equipment Available

Back Pack Sprayer                                                         $50.00 Ref. Deposit
Hand Broadcast Seeder                                                $50.00 Ref. Deposit
Cattle Scale                                                                   $40.00/half day or $75.00/ full day
Hay Probes                                                                    no charge
Gallagher Tag Reader                                                    $50.00 Ref. Deposit
Grain Bag Roller                                                            No Charge

Pest Control Products Available

Magpie Traps                                                                 $50.00 Ref. Deposit 2 week rental
Skunk Traps                                                                   $50.00 Ref. Deposit 2 week rental
Coyote Control Materials                                              no charge
Scare Cannon                                                                no charge
Beaver Dam Removal                                                    $100.00 1st dam/$50.00 ea. additional

Note:    Rental equipment and pest control products shall not leave County possession without a signature and monies if required.

Vegetation Management

  1. Private Land Spraying - $80.00/hr. plus the cost of the chemical per L applied at cost + GST, where applicable, will be charged.
  2. Industry Spraying - $135.00/hr. plus the cost of the chemical per L applied at cost + GST, where applicable will be charged.
  3. Weed Picking - $40.00/hr. per individual + GST.

Tree Planting

Assist in tree planting with staff and a tree planter for numbers of 200 or more trees.

Pesticide Container Sites

Castor Waste Transfer Site                                            SW 3-38-14 W4
Coronation Waste Transfer Site                                      SW 36-36-11 W4

Contact Agriculture Services

Jeff Cosens, Director of Environmental Services
Bus: 403.882.3211
Cell: 403.740.9183

Trevor Kerr, Assistant Agriculture Fieldman
Bus: 403.882.3211
Cell: 403.740.9182