Weed Awareness for Reclamation

Weed Awareness for
Goal of WAR:
• Educate to prevent the
introduction and spread of weeds
on reclamation sites
Participants to Date
• Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural
• Alberta Environment
• Alberta Sustainable Resource Development
• Alberta Transportation
• Agriculture Service Board
• Oil and Gas Industry
• Special Areas Board
Why are we concerned?
• Weeds are one of
the most common
• Economic impact
of weed control
Canada thistle
Why are we concerned (cont’d.)
• Refusal of
• Weeds
• Weeds
interfering with
end land uses
Scentless Chamomile
What is a weed?
• Listed in the regulations of Alberta’s Weed
Control Act
• Restricted weeds (7 species): must be
• Noxious weeds (23 species): must be
controlled if a weed notice is issued
• Nuisance weeds (37species): must prevent
the spread or scattering of these plants
Weed Control Act: Section 31
Weed control is a legal responsibility
The owner or the
occupant of land will as
often as necessary:
– Destroy restricted
– Control noxious
– Prevent the spread of
nuisance weeds
Spotted Knapweed
Weed Control Act: Section 34
and 35
• No person shall deposit or permit to be
deposited weed seeds or material containing
weed seeds in a place where they might
grow or spread
• No person shall move a machine or vehicle
if the movement is likely to cause the
spread of a restricted, noxious or nuisance
Liability of Operators
• Operators or lease holders are the
“occupants” as defined in the
Weed Control Act
• Occupants are liable
What is a problem plant?
• Problem plants may not be designated under
the Weed Control Act
• Introduced forages like crested wheat grass,
smooth brome and timothy can be desirable
in one area but problem invaders in some
natural landscapes
• Whether a plant becomes a problem
depends on the plant’s habits and the
climate and soils in the area
Weed Awareness Can Save $$$
• Every year industry spends millions of
dollars on weed control
• Simple precautions taken up front during
planning, construction and reclamation
activities can save big bucks
• Preventing weeds from being introduced is
more cost effective than trying to control
them after they’re established
• A pipeline company purchased straw for
crimping wellsites in southern Alberta
• Downy brome (a noxious weed in some
municipalities) was in the straw
• The cost to the company was $33,000/ha to
minimize new seed production and
$1100/ha in ongoing maintenance
Planning to Avoid Weeds
• Companies should
communicate with:
– The landowner
and/or occupant
– The weed
inspector and
inspector for the
Questions for the Company to
Answer through Interview and
Pre-Site Assessment
• What is the weed history on the site and
surrounding area?
• What weeds have been treated in last three
• Are neighbour’s weeds a concern?
• What weeds are of concern in the area?
Questions to Ask During
Planning Phase
• What is the current
land use?
• Are special crops
being produced
(e.g., certified,
• Are herbicides
Questions for Landowners and
Occupants to Ask
• Who is my contact if a problem arises?
• How will equipment be cleaned?
• Does the company have an active weed
control program?
• Will you notify me if there is a change in
• Will I get a copy of the weed analysis
Communication with
Agricultural Fieldmen/Public
Land Managers
• What weeds have been documented in the
• What new weeds are a concern?
• What control methods have been
successfully used?
• Has the landowner effectively controlled
• What problems have other companies had?
Assistance for Landowners and
Farmer’s Advocate
Surface Rights groups
Agriculture Fieldmen
Alberta Agriculture,
Food and Rural
• Local Reclamation
• Public Lands, Alberta
Sustainable Resource
Pre-Activity Weed Survey
• The operator should conduct an onsite
inspection for all listed weeds (including
those of concern in particular
municipalities) prior to commencing an
activity; the landowner/occupant should
sign the audit
• Copies of the weed pre-site inspection
should go to the municipality or to Alberta
Sustainable Resource Development (public
Pre-Activity Weed Survey:
Why do it?
• Important documentation when conflicts
arise (e.g., what was brought in vs. what
was already there)
• A benchmark for companies conducting
• Important step in identifying sources of
weeds (e.g., what might companies be
bringing to the next site?)
Weed Survey: Why do it?
• Offsite concerns
become evident
• Updates during the
life of operations
can save $$$
(especially on long
term projects where
third party impacts
are likely)
Weed Survey Methodology:
• Survey for any weeds listed as noxious or
restricted in Alberta’s Weed Control Act
• Also obtain a list of problem species from
the MD or County being surveyed (talk to
the Agricultural Fieldman)
Leafy spurge
Methodology: Effectiveness
• Use qualified personnel to do the survey
(hire an appropriate environmental
contractor if necessary)
• Survey when most plants are in bloom and
are easily recognized
• Use the AFRD Weed Seedling Guide to
recognize early stages
• Report findings in a timely manner to
Agriculture Fieldman or MD/County office
Weed Survey Info Sheet
What to Record
• Note what weeds
are present, where
they are, the growth
stage they are at,
type and timing of
control action taken
(if herbicide is
used, record the
type and amount)
Young Scentless Chamomile
Weed Seeds in the Seed You Buy
• Canada No. 1 or certified seed only
guarantees the variety (genetic) purity
but NOT that the seed is weed free
• Common seed CAN be cleaner than
certified seed
• The ONLY way to ensure that
weeds/problem plants are not present is to
get a Seed Analysis Certificate and keep it
on file (due diligence)
Example: Scentless Chamomile
in Canada No. 1 Alfalfa
• Canada Seeds Act allows 5 Scentless
Chamomile (noxious weed) seeds per
25 grams of seed (Canada No. 1)
• Seeding at 10 Lb/acre = 900 scentless
chamomile seeds/acre
• Checking the seed
certificate can prevent
this from happening
Seed Analysis (SA) Certificate
• ASK for a Seed Analysis certificate for
each seed lot and review them before you
buy; refuse unsuitable seed lots
• The person purchasing seed needs to know
what to look for (use qualified personnel)
• It’s not always possible to buy a completely
weed free seed lot but you can purchase one
that doesn’t contain weeds or plants of
This SA certificate for a lot
of native June grass shows a
potential problem agronomic
plant (Kentucky bluegrass)
under “Other Crop Species”
and one weed of concern
(Rat’s-tail fescue) under
“Other Weed Seeds”.
This seed lot should
be refused for planting in a
native prairie environment. It
should be noted that in the
current SA reporting system,
other native species in the
seed lot are recorded in the
“Other Weed Seeds” column.
Example: A Preventable Problem
• 1978, 14 miles of seismic line seeded in the M.D.
of Greenview
• A “Forestry mix” was used (Scentless Chamomile
was an impurity)
• One landowner seeded his own ½ mile with a
different mix. His land stayed clean; everyone else
is still picking and spraying
Scentless Chamomile
Lesson: ASK for a
Certificate of Seed
Analysis before
purchasing seed!
Clean Equipment and Materials
• All equipment and materials must be
properly pressure cleaned when moving to a
new area (check with municipalities about
weeds of concern)
• Pay attention to less accessible areas
(e.g., tracks, belly pans, lugs)
• Clean in a visible area so that the weeds that
come up can be easily controlled; record
Wash Station
Storage Areas
• Ensure that equipment and materials
(e.g., pipes) are coming from clean storage
areas (talk to suppliers and contractors)
Soil Movement
• Proper soil conservation eliminates need to
haul topsoil; keep soils as close to the
original location as possible
• Do not import topsoil with weeds (note:
fence line and ditch soils should be
carefully inspected for weeds before use)
Canada thistle
problem following
storage of weedy
soil on cultivated land
• If suitable topsoil is unavailable, the
soil quality on the site can be improved
by using appropriate weed free
amendments and cropping practices
(e.g. Certified Weed free compost and
green manure)
Annual Crops vs. Crimping
• Using a clean annual
crop is a safer choice
than crimping straw
for weed and erosion
• Use material from the
same landowner if
possible or get him to
recommend a source
Straw Crimping (cont’d)
• Check fields that the straw is coming from;
on large projects contract the straw
production with a reputable grower
• Straw can sometimes be obtained from a
certified annual cereal crop grower
• On public land, clear sources with
appropriate regulatory
Maintenance: Soil Stockpiles
• All stockpiles
with maintenance
needs should have
side slopes no
steeper than 4:1
• Revegetate with
species that
provide erosion
control and are
competitive with
Maintenance: Staging Areas
• Remove small mounds of gravel, soil or
debris that can impede maintenance such as
mowing or spraying
• Level or backblade areas before moving
equipment away from the location
Maintenance: Brush and Wood
• Dispose of brush piles, wood piles as soon
as possible to eliminate a place for weeds to
Maintenance: Regular
• Inspect operational areas twice during the
growing season (spring and late summer),
for noxious weeds and other unwanted
• Weed control must be done in a timely
• Avoid the overuse of residual herbicides on
industrial facilities. These products
accumulate in the soil and can prevent the
growth of desirable vegetation
Maintenance: Inspections/Control
• Make sure that
personnel have the
authority to deal
with weeds
• Appropriate control
measures to be used
by qualified
Special Precautions for Native
• The use of broad spectrum herbicides can
damage native wildflowers
• Mowing or spot spraying are the preferred
control methods in areas revegetated with
native species
• Care must be taken not to mow stands too
low (<15 cm) to avoid damage to native
Natural Recovery (No Seed)
• Only use this
approach where
weed invasion
potential is low
• Annual weeds
usually disappear in
a few years and can
be mowed if very
• Crop Protection ( Blue Book, annual publication,
AFRD), Alberta Agriculture, AGDEX 606 - 1.
• Native Plant Revegetation Guidelines for Alberta,
H. Sinton (ed.). Alberta Agriculture, Food and
Rural Development and Alberta Environment.
• Practical Crop Protection ( Green Book ), Alberta
Agriculture, AGDEX 606 - 3.
• Problem Introduced Forages on Prairie and
Parkland Reclamation Sites. Conservation and
Reclamation Information Letter 01-6. Alberta
• Weeds of Canada and the Northern United Statesa guide for identification, France Royer and
Richard Dickinson. Edmonton: University of
Alberta Press; Lone Pine Publishing, 1999.
• Weeds of the Prairies , Alberta Agriculture,
AGDEX 640-4
• Weeds of the West, Tom D. Whitson. Newark,
CA: Western Society of Weed Science in
cooperation with the Western United States Land
Grant Universities Cooperative Extension Services
(and the University of Wyoming), 1996.
• Weed Seedling Guide, Alberta Agriculture,
AGDEX 640-9
Thanks to the following people for their assistance
with this presentation:
Shaffeek Ali
John Begg
John Bidulock
Heather Bishop
Norman Boulet
Ed Cappis
Rola Hogan
Helen Newsham Bruce Patterson
Chris Powter
Mike Schmaltz
Heather Sinton
Don Snider
Mike Undershultz