Weed issues growing in Saskatchewan ditches

Effects of a bad year | Residents in some Sask. RMs say the province could do more to control weeds

Most motorists don’t worry much about the vegetation they pass while on their travels, but it’s become a growing concern for rural municipalities in southern Saskatchewan.

Large populations of weeds grew this summer in the ditches that cross the RMs of Bratt’s Lake and Caledonia, said Kevin Ritchie, administrator for the RM of Bratt’s Lake.

Ritchie said the weeds were the result of the large amount of moisture that the area received.

He said they were a problem for farmers because while they were spraying their own fields, the neighbouring ditches were not controlled.

Farmers want the provincial highways ministry to spray or mow throughout the year so that weeds are kept under control, he added.

Joel Cherry, a communication consultant with the highways ministry, said the ministry has been in contact with people who had concerns in the area, but it was no more than usual.

Cherry said the ministry mows, sprays and conducts spot control to combat weeds along highways.

Cherry said people who are concerned about weeds in ditches can contact their district operation manager, and a weed inspector will then investigate the problem.

However, Rick Renwick, owner of Rengro in Milestone, Sask., said he contacted the ministry this year about the weed problem, which he referred to as a disgrace.

Renwick said ministry officials told him they didn’t have the budget to take care of the weeds.

Clark Brenzil, the provincial agricultural ministry’s weed control specialist, said the highways ministry is trying to find a balance.

“It’s always going to be a challenge for those transport companies because … it’s not their (department of highways) primary core business activity, and so money that goes into managing weeds on roadside is going to come out of asphalt,” said Brenzil.

Cherry said the highways ministry must take budgets into account when carrying out weed control, which means it needs to be strategic.

Its top priorities are road conditions and the safety of the travelling public, but it also wants to ensure it controls noxious weeds.

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