Alta. outlines program to help tackle disease, pests

BROOKS, Alta. — Clubroot in canola and Goss’s wilt in corn are relatively new diseases to the Prairies. 


A program through federal-provincial Growing Forward 2 funding is expected to help Alberta farmers control the two newcomers, as well as other pests that affect crop quality and productivity.


The program was not open for applications as of March 19 but was expected to open soon. 


Jim Broatch, pest management specialist with Alberta Agriculture, said producers could access funds for equipment sanitation, wash stations, computer programs, staff training, waste disposal, lab analysis and consultant costs.


Terms and conditions for funding had not been finalized at press time, but Broatch said those were potential examples of projects that could qualify.


“You have to tie it to the pest that you’re trying to control,” he said. “What we are asking producers to do is develop a risk assessment for their farm, looking at different pests, which ones they are either trying to avoid or which ones they’ve got that they want to do some control for. Then they have to come up with a plan.”


Projects must have a value of at least $2,000 to qualify for funding, with $30,000 in funding as the maximum per year. The program will also pay up to $250 to help farmers develop a risk assessment. 


Alberta Agriculture plant pathologist Ron Howard said crop producers haven’t been as quick as livestock producers to develop biosecurity plans, but the arrival of new diseases indicates the need.


“We’ve had four years in a row now with higher than normal levels of disease, so that raises everybody’s awareness,” he said.


“We have clubroot that has come in as a new disease, Goss’s wilt is a new disease and when people look around, we can see that they were probably introduced accidentally.”


He said producers would be well advised to make plans for combating clubroot and blackleg in canola and fusarium head blight in cereals.


“It’s a lot of common sense about knowing what’s on your farm and what you’re spreading on your farm and what could come from the outside,” said Howard.


The rush that often accompanies seeding and harvest operations makes it difficult to spend time sanitizing equipment and taking other pest prevention measures.


“But it’s the difference between getting a disease on your farm or not.”


Program details, when available, can be found by searching for Alberta Agriculture Growing Forward 2 and then clicking on the programs tab. Programs available for application are indicated with a green check mark.

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