Athabasca County Agricultural Services supports farmers and producers by encouraging production, profitability, and sustainability. We offer a number of programs and provide information on crop protection, including vegetation management, insect and pest control, and wildlife management.
County staff are also available for services such as soil and feed sampling, field inspections, specialty crops consultation, weed, insect and disease monitoring and control, and marketing recommendations.
The protection of both livestock and grain crops is a core program of the Agricultural Service Board.
The Service Board uses an integrated approach to vegetation management combining manual, mechanical and chemical methods to control weeds and brush. Athabasca County is committed to use safe and environmentally sound vegetation management practices. Controlling the weed and brush growth in the roadside ditches promotes drainage and reduces shading helping the road dry faster, makes snow removal easier, reduces fire hazard and eliminates hiding spots for wildlife, all of which makes the roads safer to travel. The Department annually treats over 600 km of roadside for brush and weed control. We also inspect and treat and other public land (such as gravel pits) for noxious weed control. The use of herbicides is the most cost effective means of weed control. All herbicide applications are carried out by certified applicators following the Industrial Vegetation Management Association’s (IVMA)- Standards and Good Practices protocol, also Alberta Environment’s Code of Practice for the safe use and handling of pesticides. While any Prohibited Noxious or Noxious weeds will be targeted, we have found over the years that our main target weeds of concern tend to be Canada Thistle, Perennial Sow Thistle, Toadflax and Scentless Chamomile.
Unfortunately though, throughout the County in limited locations, we have small amounts of all the worst weeds on the Prohibited Noxious and Noxious lists. These would include Common Tansy, Field Scabious, White Cockle, and Ox-Eye Daisy.
The department currently has a weed control incentive program to assist producers with off-setting of the cost of herbicide to control weeds on pasture and rangeland.
For those residents who wish not to have roadsides along their property treated with herbicides, they may enter into a signed agreement with the County whereby they assume responsibility for weed control in the ditch. For details on the Terms of Agreement and our Roadside Weed Control Program, call Agricultural Services.
Insect & Disease Control
The Agricultural Pests Act directs that Agricultural Pests (Norway Rat, Blackleg & Clubroot of Canola, Dutch Elm Disease, Warble Fly, etc.) must be controlled. and that Agricultural Nuisances (Coyotes, Skunks, Richardson’s Ground Squirrel, Northern Pocket Gopher, etc.) may be controlled.
The Agricultural Service Board (ASB) works under Alberta Agriculture’s directive on these issues and have programs for pest control. It should be noted that where there are urban and human interactions with Coyotes, Alberta Fish and Wildlife are legislated to deal with these situations. ASB may assist with Coyote control as it relates to agricultural production, and where a proven case of predation has occurred.
The potential impact of insects and disease varies from year to year and the Ag Service Board has a monitoring program to predict outbreaks.
The Service Board has Electrostatic sprayer available for the control of Blackflies as well as two Bran Bait applicators available for localized treatments of Grasshoppers.
Under the mandate of the Agricultural Land Flood Control Program the County Problem Wildlife Specialists, Kevin Robinson and Luke Chernish respond to agricultural flooding problems, requiring the destruction of beaver dams and the removal or relocation of beavers. The department also installs Beaver Stop culvert protection devices that provide long term protection of road crossings from beaver damage.
The Department also conducts a Coyote Predation Control and an intensive pocket gopher management program in the Rochester area.
Our Ag Services Staff is available to assist producers with a variety of services that could benefit their farm management and productivity. Services include soil and feed sampling; field inspections; specialty crops consultation, weed, insect and disease monitoring and control; marketing recommendations; and other services to numerous to mention.
The Service Board sponsors several management workshops every year. The Agricultural Service Board also hosts the Annual Farm Women’s Conference.
Horticulture & Backsloping
The Agricultural Service Board promotes the planting of trees and the many benefits that tree planting projects provide.
Orders for tree seedlings from Tree Time or the Alberta Tree Nursery can be made at the County office.
The Agricultural Service Board has a roadside backsloping program that promotes the improvement of roadsides to benefit water management and weed and brush control. The policy states that interested landowners can approach the service board and request the work be done by county forces or are eligible to have the work done themselves and be compensated $1,500 per half mile of completed backsloping.
Rural Water Development
Funding provided through PFRA under the National Water Supply Expansion Program has enabled the County to plan and develop a rural water supply network across the County.
Tank loading facilities are operational at the following locations:
- Grosmont Site: SE 15-67-24 W4M
- George Lake Site: NE 31-64-23 W4M
- Sawdy Site: SW 6-68-22 W4M
- Richmond Park Site: NW 20-68-21 W4M
- Ferguson Road Site: NW 12-66-21 W4M
- Grassland Site: SW 25-67-19 W4
- Boyle Site: SE 2-65-20 W4M
- Pine Creek Site: SW 19-63-21 W4M
- Rochester Site: In the Hamlet of Rochester
- Colinton Site: In the Hamlet of Colinton (treated water)
The tank loading facilities will provide water at a cost of $1.00/200 gallons for agricultural use.
Weed Control Incentive Program
Under the Weed Control Incentive Program, Athabasca County offers landowners incentives to help to stop the spread and reduce the number of noxious weeds in the region,
As a measure to address the potential economic impact of the spread of weeds, landowners who treat large infestations may qualify for a rebate on the herbicide products that they use.
Under the program, landowners can apply to be reimbursed for a portion of the costs for the application. Participants in the program are required to apply prior to work being done, and have their land inspected before and after the chemical application. Proof of chemical purchase must be submitted to qualify for reimbursement.
Those interested in becoming part of the program can download and fill out the application and bring it into the County office to arrange an inspection.
Weed Control Brochure
Athabasca County Agricultural Services has a helpful brochure to identify and understand the goals for weed control in Alberta.
Athabasca County’s Agricultural Service Department has a variety of equipment available to lend and rent. The equipment is located at the County’s Public Works yard in Athabasca. For booking arrangements please call the Agriculture Service Department office at780-675-2273.
BMO Farm Family Award
For 50 years, farm families from northern and central Alberta communities have been recognized as the recipients of the BMO Farm Family Award. The award honours both their farming business practices and community involvement. Winners receive a commemorative gate sign and are honoured at the BMO Farm Family Awards Gala.
Athabasca County’s Agricultural Services Board advertises for nominations and forwards the names of those to be considered every two years. The winner is selected according to eligibility guidelines set out for the award.
They are as follows:
- the farm family units must be actively farming and consider agriculture as a major source of income
- increase awareness of agriculture and maintain a high standard in their agriculture business
- promote the agriculture community through involvement and rural citizenship
- be proactive in new agricultural technologies
- act as a role model to the rural community
- be deserving based on equal recognition of agricultural and community involvement
For more information contact the Agricultural Services Department.
Farm Woman of the Year
Each year Athabasca County and members of the Farm Women’s Committee work to organize the Farm Women’s Conference & Awards. The event celebrates the accomplishments of rural women through the presentation of two awards – the Pioneer Farm Woman of the Year and the Modern Farm Woman of the Year. View Past Recipients
Each year a call for nominations is made and a selection committee reviews the information pertaining to each individual. If a nomination is made, and the nominee is not selected, their name can stand for nomination again the following year.
The one-day conference moves around the municipality each year and hosts both local and provincial speakers and entertainers to make the conference a great place to network or say hello to a friends while gathering to pay tribute to the hard-working farm women of our region.
The Centennial Farm Award
Farming and ranching consists of hard work and sacrifice, combined with a healthy dose of energy and unrelenting faith. This spirit and vision, complemented by a new land of limitless natural resources is what brought our forefathers to Alberta. They settled the land to build the family farm or ranch — the place many of you continue to call home today.
Keeping the farm or ranch from generation to generation and actively operating it is an impressive achievement for any Alberta family. Athabasca County wishes to salute those families who have owned and operated the same land for a minimum of 100 years.
Am I Eligible?
Criteria have been set to identify the families eligible to receive this award. It includes the following:
- your land has been continuously owned and actively farmed or ranched by your family for a minimum of 100 years
- you can provide evidence demonstrating the kinship ties between you and the founder of the farm, ranch or homestead
- you can provide the legal land location
- you can provide the date of homestead establishment
- you can provide the current ownership land title
- the current size of the original homestead or land base should be at least 160 acres of land
The Selection Process
If you meet these requirements, please contact Athabasca County Administration Office or your local councilor about two months prior to your 100-year anniversary date or your family celebration date. Eligible applicants will be presented with the Athabasca County Centennial Award gate sign.
What do families receive?
Your family will receive a steel powder-coated gate sign (size: 36″ wide x 29.750″ tall) commemorating this 100-year milestone. This award, which can be placed at the gate or hung on a building, symbolizes your family’s perseverance and their ability to keep farming or ranching in the face of change.