The Fieldman’s Files – How can you help us, help you?

Normand Boulet
CCA, Ag Fieldman
M.D. of Smoky River No. 130

To be clear, I know I am a Public Servant. I have worked for municipalities for almost 30 years.

I work for the M.D. of Smoky River and I and my co-workers in the Agricultural Services Department work diligently to try and keep weeds, pests and insect issues under control. The vegetation control part of our job regarding Roadside Weed and Brush control is a big task. About 1,200 miles of road means 2,400 miles of ditch. New weeds get introduced, brush suckers and regrows and we keep picking away at it trying to maintain control while also not wasting time or herbicide.

Some weeds like Dame’s rocket and White cockle come into bloom early and need to be controlled before they can set seed, while others come along later and aren’t visible early in the season. It’s tough to get everything without going over the area multiple times during the year. It’s a big job, and landowners can help us to do it properly and keep costs (and therefore their taxes) down.

First off, knowing which weeds are of concern and letting us know when you see them helps a great deal. With only a few staff members the more eyes we have looking and reporting, the better. All M.D. staff (especially the grader operators) are on the lookout and report roadside weeds to us, if landowners do so as well it makes a huge difference. If you want to see what invasive plants we are most concerned with check out, choose Invasive Species/Fact Sheets/Weed Control Act and you can check out Noxious or Prohibited noxious weeds. Or, if you’re out in the field take a few pics with your cell phone (selfie’s too if you want) text them to me at (780) 837-0043. If the photos are clear enough and it’s a weed I should be able to tell you what it is. Add a text to tell me where they are i.e. RR207 south of TWP766 (those roads don’t exist, so don’t bother trying to find them).

Second way you can help is by not spraying into our ditches when you do your field spraying. I don’t have a problem with it if it’s a cereal weed control product, that won’t bother our grasses and may actually suppress the weeds – but the non-selective products especially; glyphosate, Liberty, Reglone – they kill the grasses in our ditches. Nature abhors a vacuum and wants to fill it as quickly as possible, nature’s arsenal consists mostly of weeds so by killing our roadside ditch grass we make room for Canada thistle, Toadflax, White cockle etc. If we can keep healthy grass in our ditches it not only reduces the ability of weeds to establish, it also prevents erosion. Imagine a bunch of bare dirt ditches with the water flows we had this spring. Erosion not only clogs things up downstream, it is also very expensive to repair.

My last point is pretty much a shout out to the people with high clearance sprayers. Please, please don’t drive into the ditches with your units. Use the field approaches. Especially now as fungicide season (and maybe insecticide season) is upon us, those skinny tires and all that weight make huge gouges in the ditches. That’s another spot for weeds and erosion to start, but it’s also a real mower wrecker when an unsuspecting operator trying to cut down the grass, weeds and brush hits those perpendicular two foot deep tracks.

We are here to serve, we do what we can and a little effort on your parts would go a long way. As always, if you have questions or concerns about agricultural issues and programs in the M.D., contact me at (780) 837-0043 or


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