Welcome to our Rural Development Department

Rural Development Director           Shayne Steffen       Email
Agricultural Coodinator    
  Dessa Nicholson      Email

In Saddle Hills County, agriculture is managed by the Rural Development Department. The Manager of Rural Development is tasked with managing weed and pest control, animal health, soil erosion, and water conservation programs. The department is also responsible for vegetation management on all County rights of way.

Each summer, seasonal staff are hired and designated as Weed and Pest Inspectors, to inspect for weeds and pests on private land. The team works to provide advice, education and resources to the residents and welcomes suggestions, inquiries and reports. Look for notifications of events and programs on the Facebook page, the website Event Calendar, and the Central Peace Signal newspaper.

Consult the special sections below for specific information or get in touch with us using the email links above or call Saddle Hills County at 780-864-3760.


Saddle Hills County remains relatively free of crop pests and weeds allowing for sound agricultural practices and many choices for crop rotation.  Crop pests and weeds are most times introduced to new areas by accident and sometimes remain undetected for several seasons. 

The best way to prevent unintentional introduction is to ensure that any farming, industrial and recreational equipment, livestock, and pets are cleaned of all debris and mineral soil prior to import to the County.  The Agricultural Fieldman is authorized under the Agricultural Pests Act to detain any equipment that is suspected of carrying a listed pathogen, collect samples and sent them to the laboratory for testing. 

The equipment cannot move until the tests are received proving that the debris is pathogen free.  We should all be concerned with sustainable agriculture, so tell your neighbors and if you see dirty equipment, machinery or rig mats coming into the County, please call your Agricultural Fieldman.

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 Membership

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. Saddle Hills County 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 Protect Yourself And Your Neighbours From Weeds And Pests


• Clean all equipment before moving from one location to the next. This applies to farm, industrial and recreational equipment.
• Ensure that equipment purchased from outside of the County is thoroughly cleaned before it is brought here. All oil and gas equipment must be clean of all debris and mineral soild BEFORE it is hauled into the County. 

• 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.

• 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


Internal Links 

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