By Karen Smith, PAg, Agriculture Program Specialist, Regional Services Branch, Tisdale
Driving down the highway, a person can often see a large variety of wildflowers growing in ditches and along the tree lines. To the average person, these flowers may add a touch of colour to the landscape. However, to some, these flowers are not only considered a weed, but also a risk to the surrounding environment. Some of these flowers fall under The Weed Control Act (2010) as noxious, prohibited, or nuisance weeds, and pose a threat to prairie biodiversity by overtaking natural areas and choking out desired native vegetation. They could also pose a problem for livestock or humans and can cause adverse reactions if eaten or touched.
The Pest Biosecurity Program falls under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) and is designed to increase the resiliency of agricultural production through enhanced plant biosecurity by early detection of invasive plants and minimizing threats with preventive actions. The Ministry of Agriculture partners with the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) to deliver this program.
The Pest Biosecurity Program is made of four separate areas to assist Rural Municipalities (RMs) and First Nations Bands south of the Northern Administrative District:
- The Plant Health Network is designed to provide direct support to manage the agricultural crop pests and prohibited and noxious weeds as required under The Pest Control Act and The Weed Control Act (2010) in Saskatchewan. Plant Health Officers located in each SARM division work to develop, promote and implement best practices to help identify and control invasive threats to plant biosecurity.
- The Invasive Plant Control Program provides assistance to help control the establishment and spread of prohibited weeds as well as specific noxious weeds.
- The Beaver Control Program assists with the humane removal of nuisance beavers.
- The Rat Control Program is available to help with rat control efforts.
The program is considered highly valuable and has been used by many RMs across the province. The RM of Winslow (319) has worked with the Pest Biosecurity Program to introduce a clubroot bylaw. Regan MacDonald, RM Administrator, indicated that Plant Health Officers have played a very important role when it comes to education and support. Their clubroot bylaw was introduced through a farmer-driven approach. MacDonald said Plant Health Officers play a vital role in helping both farmers and RMs to see the bigger picture and demonstrate how creating these types of bylaws help to establish a proactive approach before clubroot becomes an issue.
SARM President Ray Orb recognizes the impact the Pest Biosecurity Program has in the province.
“The greatest success of the Pest Biosecurity Program to date is the knowledge and support our Plant Health Officers provide to RMs and producers,” Orb said. “Having such knowledge readily available on a regional basis across Saskatchewan is a great complement to the grant funding provided under this program. It ensures it is being used in the most effective way possible and therefore making the biggest impact.”
For more information on the Pest Biosecurity Program, visit the SARM program website or contact your local Plant Health Officers. You can also contact an Agriculture Programs Specialist at a regional office near you or call the Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377 for information on this program.