The Big Lakes County Agriculture department offers a variety of services and programs that benefit our rural residents. The Agricultural Fieldman has a legislated responsibility for weed and pest control, water and soil conservation, to assist the province under the Animal Health Act, and to promote agricultural economic development.

The Agriculture department also provides identification and information services on weed, pest, and insect control and offers an array of programs, information, advice, and education to the agricultural industry and the Agricultural Service Board.

Preparing for wildfires is crucial for farm owners and managers. Establishing a robust wildfire plan can safeguard your livestock, crops, and property. Here are some key strategies and materials to help you be prepared for an emergency.

Farm Wildfire Planning Guidebook

Farm Wildfire Guidebook Summary

Shelter-In-Place Checklist

In 2018, Big Lakes County began offering a Shelterbelt Program to our ratepayers.  Since that time, ratepayers have planted thousands of seedlings. Shelterbelts help block wind from yards and prevent snow drifts in the winter, offer privacy screens, and can provide aesthetic and wildlife value.  The Agricultural Service Board is proud to have brought this program to Big Lakes County residents and hopes the program continues for many years.

This year we are looking to expand plant species offered with an emphasis on diversifying shelterbelts to add additional wind break benefits, to add greater biodiversity, to add wildlife and pollinator value, to provide species that can be adapted to a wider array of site conditions (inclusive of wet areas), and to offer edible species for your enjoyment.

Please click the following link for an online order form with species factsheets incorporated: Big Lakes County 2024 Shelterbelt Order Form 

If you would like assistance with siting a shelterbelt, spacing recommendations, species distribution and species selection, please check out the following resources or
contact Agricultural Services:

·        Agroforestry and Woodlot Extension Society – Native Agroforestry Species Database

·        Agroforestry and Woodlot Extension Society – Practical guide to establishing an eco-buffer

·        Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada – Ecological buffers

·        Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada – Traditional shelterbelt design guidelines


o  Planting questions

o  Tree selection questions

o  Care and maintenance questions

Specialized information for other forms of plantings (using plant material we currently do
not supply):

·        Agroforestry and Woodlot Extension Society – Manual for Riparian Forest Buffer establishment

If you prefer to download information sheets and order forms and submit via email or at the County front desk, please see the documents below. 

2024 Order Form

2023 Shelterbelt Species Quick Facts 

Yearly, Big Lakes County controls vegetation along roadsides, right-of-ways and within County hamlets. There are a variety of ways in which this control is achieved; through mowing, brushing, herbicide application and working with the public.


Controlling vegetation within these areas is a responsibility for the County and addresses concerns regarding visibility, unsightliness as well as adherence to the Weed Control Act of Alberta.


The Act aims to protect citizens from the economic, social and environmental impacts of invasive plants. Invasive plants outcompete native vegetation, taking over areas through superior root, shoot and seed production. This can lead to yield losses for our Agricultural Producers, lower water quality in our lakes and rivers, and a loss to our natural landscapes aesthetic and biodiversity.


Under the Act, there are two designations. Prohibited Noxious plants are ones that are in the province in low numbers or not yet recorded. Plants under this designation must be destroyed. This includes the entire plant, down to the root structure and the seed.


Noxious plants are plants that are established in the Province of Alberta. These plants are designated to be controlled. This means controlling seed and vegetative reproduction.


Big Lakes County utilizes an Integrated Pest Management system. This involves:

  • Monitoring– Tracking infestations through the use of GPS and inspections
  • Cultural Control– Sanitation, roadside seeding, and biological control
  • Mechanical Control– Mowing, pruning, and brushing
  • Chemical Control– Herbicide Application


Big Lakes County has a yearly Herbicide Application program aimed at reducing chemical usage and providing optimal vegetative control. Herbicides are carefully selected, weighing the potential residual impacts, the chemicals effectiveness on a wide range of vegetation, the potential environmental impacts, and safety for residents.


The chemicals chosen have low residual impact, low leaching probability, low incidence of drift off application site and high levels of effectiveness against our target weed species. If you would like to discuss chemical control in-depth, please contact the Agricultural Fieldman.


Big Lakes County has a rotational schedule in which chemical control is applied. For control of brush and thistle, we have split the County into three sectors. Within its rotational year, the entire sector is sprayed. In the following years, these areas are monitored for noxious and prohibited noxious weed occurrence. If found, these plants are controlled through a spot spray application. This helps minimize the amount of chemical being used.

All rented land Spray Exemption forms must be signed by the landowner, not the renter.


Big Lakes County has a Spray Exemption Program for those wishing to limit or eliminate chemical control adjacent to their property. Landowners are invited to participate if they would prefer to control the vegetation in the ditches surrounding their land. This control must be completed by July 15th of each year.


Once a landowner has signed their property into the Spray Exemption program, they will be issued “DO NOT SPRAY” signs. These signs must be placed in an area that is and will remain visible.


Existing agreements roll over into the next year. Enrollment for new plots of land are due on the first Monday of May annually.


After July 15th, the County will inspect the land to ensure the vegetation has been controlled. If control has not been performed, Big Lakes County has a legal responsibility to ensure control is achieved. We encourage landowners to work with us. If you are a Spray Exemption Program Participant who has not been able to control the vegetation enrolled in the program, call the Agricultural Services Department for assistance.

Big Lakes County controls beaver dams that threaten the integrity of municipal infrastructure. This includes culverts, roads, and licensed drainage ditches. If the dam affecting municipal property is on privately held land, the municipality requires a release form be signed, prior to dam removal proceeding. Please Contact the Transportation Manager at 780-523-5955 Ext. 2353.

Should beaver dams be causing ponding issues on private land that does not affect municipal infrastructure, landowners would need to seek the services of a beaver control professional at their own cost. Big Lakes County recognizes the need to support wolf population control efforts to reduce the incidents of livestock predation. To that end, the County created the Wolf Hunting Incentive. This incentive sees individuals harvesting a wolf being compensated by the municipality $250.00 per pelt(subject to change as per budget deliberations). This incentive is meant to promote the lawful hunting of wolves within the municipality.

The program is reviewed on a regular basis and includes all lands and residents within Big Lakes County, including the residents of Métis and First Nation settlements.

When requesting authorization for reward payment, the registrant must declare the following:

  1. That the wolf was harvested within an 8 kilometre (5 mile) perimeter of private property or grazing leases
  2. The legal land location where the wolf was harvested
  3. That they are the registered legal landowner or the authorized occupant of the land; and/or
  4. That the registrant has permission to hunt on said land

On a random basis, Agricultural Services will request confirmation of harvest site. To ease this requirement, Agricultural Services is instructing all participants to take a photo of the harvest site for our records with geolocating turned on in their smartphone. See the following instructions on how to turn on geolocating on your phone.

  • How to turn on / off GPS geotagging on iPhone and iPad
  • Open iOS Settings App
  • Tap on Privacy
  • Select Location Services
  • Tap on Camera
  • In Allow location access select “While using the App” if you want photos to be geotagged or select “Never” if you don’t want photos to be geotagged.
  • Go to your Android device’s home screen, then press the “Menu” button. Tap “Settings” to access the settings menu.
  • Drag your finger up the screen to scroll down the phone’s menu until you find the
  • “Location” option. Tap the “Location” option to continue. Note that on some Android devices this may be labeled “Location and Security.”
  • Tap the option labeled “Use GPS Satellites” to place a green check mark next to it. This option must be turned on for the geotagging option to work
  • Press the “Home” button to go back to the main screen, then tap the camera icon to launch your Android smartphone’s camera.
  • Tap the “Menu” button once the camera application loads, then tap the “Settings” option. On some Android cameras, this option will simply be a small cog icon.
  • Scroll down to “Store Location in Pictures,” or “Geo-tag Photos,” depending on your OS version, and tap that option to put a green check mark next to it. Tap “OK” when you see a message telling you that the GPS function needs to be turned on. Your photos will now be geotagged with your location as long as your phone can get your position from the GPS satellites.

ALUS Canada is proud to be a community-developed, farmer-delivered program. With an ever-expanding number of ALUS chapters across the nation, ALUS forms a mosaic of strong and unique programs, each one determining its own priorities while upholding a shared set of national principles.

Alberta Environmental Farm Plan

The Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) is a voluntary, whole farm, self-assessment tool that helps producers identify their environmental risks and develop plans to mitigate identified risks. We are working together with farmers committed to environmental stewardship.

Completing an EFP allows access to Federal and Provincial grant programs.

Learn More.

Facts About Farming
  • 98% of Canadian farms are family-owned
  • Total land area in Alberta is 157,710,720 acres
  • Total area of farmed land in is 50,498,834 acres
  • Alberta is the largest beef producing province
  • Alberta has the 2nd most farm land of all provinces
  • Alberta has the 2nd most producers of all provinces

For more information contact our Agricultural Fieldman.

This program was initiated to ensure rural acreage owners have access to select commercial-class herbicides to control prohibited noxious and noxious weeds as identified in the Weed Control Act.

Why a specific program

In June of 2020, Big Lakes County became a participating municipality to assist producers in accessing appropriate chemical controls for their weed issues. After successfully completing the Acreage Owner Pesticide Course through Lakeland College, Rural Acreage Owners will be able to:

  • Manage their property to prevent noxious and prohibited noxious weeds from growing.
  • Manage these regulated weeds growing on their acreage using an integrated weed management approach.
  • Safely and effectively use select commercial class herbicides provided on a cost recovery basis by their municipal agricultural fieldman.
Did you know?

Alberta’s Weed Control Act requires municipalities to identify more than 75 noxious and prohibited noxious weeds. Prohibited noxious weeds must be destroyed. Noxious weeds need to be controlled.

A weed inspector, often the agricultural fieldman, surveys their municipality to see if there are outbreaks of a particular weed. If a noxious weed or a prohibited noxious weed is found on someone’s property, they are notified.

In the past, acreage owners had only 3 options to deal with these weeds:

  • Use a domestic class herbicide from a garden centre you apply yourself.
  • Use one of a few commercial class herbicides. These are the same product as domestic class, but in larger containers you buy from a commercial pesticide seller. These herbicides are for specific weed control in turf, non-cropland areas, shelterbelts and shrub beds.
  • Hire a custom pesticide service to apply herbicides for you.

The acreage owner program is another option. You work with your municipality to control problem weeds.

How to qualify for this program

This process can be initiated by Big Lakes County Agricultural Services or by an interested Ratepayer.

An inspection is performed on the land(s) in question to determine level of infestation and amount of chemical required. A prescription for the infestation will be completed and recorded in the application by the Agricultural Fieldman and/or Assistant Agricultural Fieldman.


The “Rural Acreage Owner” Program application is completed, and the ratepayer is directed to enroll in the Alberta Commercial Pesticide Applicator Certification Program offered by Lakeland College. The cost of the course is $75.00.


Upon successful completion of the course, the certificate is presented to the Agricultural Service department. Agricultural Services will then provide chemical in a handheld sprayer, trailer sprayer, quad sprayer etc. as fits the situation of the ratepayer with the amount of mixed chemical required to complete control efforts.


Chemical costs will be charged back to the ratepayer on a cost recovery basis.

Upon completion of control efforts, the infestation will then be re-inspected to ensure control has been achieved. This will be recorded on the application form.

Have you noticed the persistent Canada Thistle and Sow Thistle growing along the edges of your property adjacent to County Road allowances? These narrow strips of weeds, when left idle, are a major weed proliferation source to your croplands, and County Road allowances.  They are often difficult and/or time consuming to control due to their proximity to fences, power poles, etc., and are often missed during field spraying operations. 

The County has recognized this situation and will provide to landowners, the spraying of these transition zones under the Fence Line Spraying Program. The requested areas 

will be incorporated into our annual spray rotation, free of charge. To sign up for this program, landowners simply need to complete a form identifying the lands where spraying 

is required.  The spray request forms are available at the County administration offices.  Once completed, forms can be submitted via email at [email protected] or at our administration offices.