Rural Development Department

Rural Development Department 

Rural Development Manager            Elaine Armagost        Email
Agricultural Foreman         Dessa Nicholson         Email

Saddle Hills County has a population of 2,225 according to the 2016 Census, which is a decline of 2.8% from 2,288 in 2011.  Of those 2,225 there are almost 800 resident farmers within its boundaries, of those, 21 have completed succession plans. 

The County is 5,838.15 square kilometers in size with just under half being crown land, or green zone.  Of the 633,882 farmed acres within County, 353,718 acres (56 per cent) are cultivated crops, 182,493 acres (29 per cent) are improved pasture and 97,670 acres (15 per cent) are native pasture. 

The first Hutterite colony began establishing themselves in the Doe River area in 2014.  The County has diversity within its agricultural community and are producing pulses, grains, hemp, corn and legumes as well as goats, elk, sheep and bison, the most common livestock production are cattle with a herd size of just over 12,000.

Agricultural Services Board (ASB)

The Agricultural Services Board (ASB) is an advisory board to Council and makes policies, bylaws and holds public workshops in order to promote sustainable agriculture in the County.  Annual inspections for pests and crop diseases as well as prohibited noxious and noxious weeds on private land, public lands and other jurisdictions within the County are conducted through policy, bylaw and provincial statute. 

Invasive plants and vegetation on County infrastructure, such as communications towers, transfer stations, gravel pits and roads are also managed by the Rural Development Department.  The ASB meets 8-12 times per year, meetings are open to the public, agendas and minutes are available on the County website.

The department collects some data that is personal in nature, however that information is protected by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.  The information is used to provide services to its Rate Payers, prepare tax notices including crop scouting, pesticide recommendations, sites for recycling agricultural plastics, Veterinary Services Incorporated (VSI) program and the Livestock Protection Program and a Wild Boars program. 

ASB Agendas & Minutes


Three Reasons for Weed and Pest Control

•  Protect agriculture and other sectors from economic loss:

•  Protect wildlife habitat and prevent environmental loss:

• Protect recreational and natural areas and prevent losses of social values

The department uses principles outlined in the Agricultural Service Board Weed and Pest Management Decision Matrix when conducting inspections and making decisions.  The Decision Matrix is a living document with lists of weeds which may be altered from time to time based on invasive principles and presence within the County.  Please contact the Agricultural Fieldman to discuss any aspect of the documnent.

In order to have the greatest success when managing plants and pests, it is imperative to use an integrated pest management approach. 

P -Prevention, the most cost-effective method of managing weed infestations is not to allow them to establish themselves. The PRRD uses Early Detection Rapid Response (EDRR) as a front line for prevention.

I - Identification, there must be two steps; 1, what is the invader and 2, how did it get here. The PRRD offers informed plant identification services.

T - Treatment, all treatments must be considered, not just chemical. Manual, such as hand pulling; mowing and cultivation; biological, such as the creeping thistle midge; and cultural, such as targeted grazing with goats or cattle.

I - Injury Threshold, a curve depicting time and size of infestation across a landscape which helps determine management objectives.

M- Monitoring, doing field checks to ensure efficiency of treatments aimed at managing infestations.

E-Evaluation, constantly reviewing, monitoring and improving the delivery of your program.


How To Prevent Weeds From Spreading


• The landowner or occupier can control the spread of noxious weeds by ensuring that only clean seed is purchased and used. This particularly applies to seeds imported to the area from other parts of Canada or abroad. Check the Certificate of Seed Analysis to ensure your seedlot is free of noxious weeds and invasive plants.

• Clean all equipment before moving from one location to the next. This applies to farm, industrial and recreational equipment.

• Tarp loads of agriculture products that may contain noxious weed or invasive plant seeds or propagules in order to keep them from establishing in new areas.

• Harvest hay before weed seeds have become viable. In the case of scentless chamomile, there are viable seeds as soon as the flower opens.

• Manage marginal areas and headlands to prevent noxious weeds and invasive plants from becoming infested and avoid unintentional transportation of seeds from area to area by wind, water and wildlife.


Information for weed resistance can be found here.

Information for choosing appropriate pesticides can be found here.

For more information about Agricultural Fieldmen check out the Alberta Association of Agricultural Fieldmen


Rural Development Department Links