Public Works Updates

Hwy 36 Closure

Please be advised that Hwy 36 will be closed except to local traffic for maintenance of the Battle River Railway crossing northwest of the Village of Alliance on Wednesday, June 7, 2023, from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

The highway will be closed from Twp Rd 410 south to Sec. Hwy 602.

The detour route is on Twp Rd 410 east of Hwy 36 for 2.0 miles, Rge Rd 132 south of Twp Rd 410 for 4.0 miles, and Sec. Hwy 602 west of Alliance for approximately 1.6 miles. The speed limit on the route is 80 km/h unless otherwise posted.

Dust Suppressant Program

The 2023 Dust Suppressant Program began May 3, starting at Rge Rd 164 and Twp Rd 452 (Patterson Grain Access Road) and continuing throughout the County.


Crews are stockpiling at the Daysland Stockpile Site, located south of Highway 13 on Range Road 170. Please use caution as gravel trucks will be turning onto and off of the highway.

Multiple Load Road Use Agreements

All individuals and companies hauling more than ten (10) loads per day on Flagstaff County roads are required to procure a Multiple Load Road Use Agreement through RoaData Services Ltd. For more information, please click HERE.

(Note: Please keep in mind that our seasonal crews will be out working on our roadways and to use extreme caution while travelling on these roads while they are being maintained in any way. We thank you in advance for your cooperation. Also keep in mind that projects may be delayed due to wet weather.)

Between the roots

Grow your knowledge about all things agricultural in Flagstaff County!

Newspaper Columns

Look for Nick’s column in the print edition of The Community Press. Past columns are archived below.

Make service requests online

Attention all rural Flagstaff County landowners: Got a service request for Public Works, such as a sewer or road issue?

You can report it online through our website by clicking HERE.

public report

Social Media Guidelines

social media

From Facebook and Twitter to YouTube and Instagram, Flagstaff County takes pride in having a strong and engaging social media presence. The various platforms have proven to be very effective for sharing information of public interest with our residents, businesses and visitors. We also value the opportunity for the two-way dialogue that social media sites provide.

What’s on your Roots

By Nick Dunn

Clubroot is a serious soil-borne disease that can’t be taken lightly; it is classified as a pest under the Alberta Agricultural Pests Act. Negligence is no way to overcome it.

Within the Alberta Clubroot Management Plan, it is the Flagstaff County Agriculture Service Board’s responsibility to conduct annual surveys to monitor the spread and resistance breakdown of clubroot. Here in Flagstaff, we are a major producer of canola, and we rely heavily on the broadleaf to fit within our crop rotations. Each year, we will conduct a survey with appointed pest inspectors throughout all 48 townships in the County. These surveys consist of four fields in each township selected at random and are surveyed with methods approved from the Alberta Clubroot Management Plan. Test samples are sent to a lab for clubroot pathogen DNA testing. If a clubroot sample is found positive, the landowner will be notified by the Agricultural Fieldman through a Notice to Control Pests and all adjacent landowners will be notified of the infestation as well. The main restriction within the notice is that the producer must keep the infected field free from brassica family plants due to their host ability. This includes mustard, cabbage family vegetables, and even some weeds that can be a host such as stinkweed and shepherd’s purse.

The original source of clubroot is unknown. During the 1970s, in the Edmonton area, the disease was first identified within small gardens, and in 2003, everything changed. It was reported that the first field of clubroot was detected in Sturgeon County, and this proved that we had failed to implement the best management practices right from the start. It has since evolved and spread, making an economic impact on our mustard production system, affecting the yield, quality and in extreme cases, causing crop loss.

Clubroot is spread through resting spores within the soil; on a single lateral canola root, one gall can be loaded with up to 2 million spores and can survive for up to 20 years. The main methods of spreading are through machinery, soil and water erosion, wind, and even seed dust. What scares me the most are custom applicators. One piece of machinery spread over various land locations and landowners could lead to the expansion of it across their areas, causing a snowball effect in a relatively short period. It is hard to detect clubroot without getting your hands dirty and pulling plants for root inspection. Looking at the crop canopy. If you notice patches of discoloration or delayed maturity that is like drought stress, other disease infestation, or nutrient deficiency, you should consider further scouting and testing.

So, what can we do about it? The best management practice is sanitization. This is a laborious method, but effective. I’ve been told that it is not possible to wash equipment after use, but it is possible, and we see this within the oilfield industry. If we know we have it, and its lifespan is 20 years, it might be in your best interest to sanitize coming out of that field. The other practice we can use is growing multi-genetic clubroot-resistant varieties and incorporating a one-in-four-year rotation.

Not only has clubroot evolved, but so has the science behind it. Take this into consideration when it comes to variety selection. Other ways to mitigate the spread are minimizing vehicle traffic, avoiding the use of straw, direct seeding, monitoring, and using new approaches.

Nick Dunn is Flagstaff County’s Agricultural Fieldman. He can be reached via email at: or by phone at: 780-384-4138.

The Farming Footprint

By Nick Dunn

There has been a lot of discussion recently on how the agricultural industry will be affected by the world gaining more recognition towards carbon. This specifically spiked when our Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault, brought forward his fertilizer plan. His plan is to achieve a 30% fertilizer reduction below 2020 levels by 2030.  

The world’s population is close to 8 billion people, and we do not have enough food to feed everyone as it stands. Here in Canada, we are fortunate to be able to produce far more than we can consume, which makes us a reliable country for feeding the future. In conjunction with Guilbeault’s plan, the federal government has a goal to increase international agri-food trade to $75 billion by 2025 (which was surpassed in 2021 by $7 billion) mainly led by unexpected global issues. To support feeding the world’s population and maintain Canada’s export expectations, we rely on synthetic fertilizers. Fertilizer use is essential for crop production and along with other technological advances, has allowed us to increase yields over the past 40 years. It gives us a fighting chance. 

With this plan, Canadian farmers could potentially lose $48 billion in revenue, according to a study from Fertilizer Canada, due to reduced yields. Reduced fertilizer use goes hand in hand with reduced yields. Globally, there are some other similar climate change policies being brought to the table. If many follow suit, there will be food shortages that we have never seen before. If you thought food was expensive today, I’m afraid to tell you the future doesn’t look any brighter. In fact, the worst is yet to come. Does Ottawa want to be a contributor to starting a global food crisis? 

For those who are in the agricultural industry, it’s important to bring awareness to what we do, how we do it, and why we do it. Our federal government is overlooking the consequences with these erratic goals and propositions due to a lack of knowledge. The agricultural industry has been making changes to better the quality of the soil and air without impacting productivity and this seems to be unrecognized. We’re stewards. We want to leave the land in better shape than when we received it. This is part of our succession plan: to promote longevity. The fertilizer industry already promotes the use of the 4R Nutrient Management plan, which is intended to improve fertilizer use and efficacy. The right source, right rate, right time and in the right place is a guide to promote efficient farming practices and help keep nutrients in the soil. Not only does this model help the pockets of our producers, but it has been proven to lower emissions. When we put fertilizer in the ground with the 4R stewardship model, we’re essentially replacing what we are removing with harvest, whether it be removed from the seed or the straw. If we didn’t, we would be considered soil miners, not producers. After long periods of abusing soil quality, we wouldn’t be able to produce anything. There are many other advancements that producers have incorporated to help reduce emissions like Implementing diesel exhaust fluid into equipment, feed and manure management, crop rotation, and reduced tillage. The Flagstaff County Agriculture Service Board (ASB), along with many other ASBs throughout Alberta, have been writing letters to the provincial and federal governments to reconsider how this goal is measured and achieved. Consider our world, country, economy, and industry.   

Nick Dunn is Flagstaff County’s Agricultural Fieldman. He can be reached via email at: or by phone at: 780-384-4138.

Getting Engagement Harder Than You Think

Public engagement written on gear wheel

By Harry Brook

This is not my usual column content, but I see an issue that is becoming critical to the well-being of our society. No matter where you work or what you do, if it involves people, engagement is necessary. Public engagement is necessary for service groups, businesses and governments to effectively do their jobs and serve their clients well.

Recently, I have attended several events and from my own personal experience, the question asked is “How can we get more people engaged”? Many groups are reaching out to members to get feedback and input and they are all having problems connecting with members of the group. They need member input to ensure they are going in the right direction and working on the right goals.

What is engagement? In this regard, engagement is “an arrangement to meet or be present”. Doesn’t sound difficult, does it? However, it has become a challenge for most organizations. Engagement requires people to be present, which means that they are greatly interested or committed. In many ways, despite the multiplicity of methods that we have to communicate, we seem to be drifting further away from each other with fewer meaningful conversations or less engagement.

Why is engagement important? Engagement is empowering if done well. It requires mutual respect and an honest desire to “listen” and consider other opinions and ideas. Also, it involves the ability to “inform,” which helps stakeholders understand the problems and solutions. If you truly have meaningful engagement and your thoughts/concerns are considered, you will have more ownership and understanding about the decision or outcomes.

There are barriers to becoming engaged. They can be loosely divided into four categories. They are awareness, time, interest and trust.

Awareness is not usually the issue as we have so many ways to promote and inform. That cuts both ways as you can promote your issue through multiple methods, but over-advertising can cause the public to ignore the message. It is also easy to have your request for input buried beneath the daily avalanche of information and distraction.

Time is a big one. Our lives are so busy and filled, we often don’t have time for any more activity or involvement. You make time for what is important to you, and everything else is optional. Time works both ways. You need time to inform the public and to collect their input and explain the decisions and the “why” of it.

Interest is another major hurdle to becoming engaged. Is the group or work something you are interested or concerned about? Should you be? Where is civic duty? What value can you get out of it or bring to it to make it worth your while?

Finally, the fourth factor is trust. This is huge when dealing with any organization. When a group seeks public engagement, are they just looking for public endorsement for what they have already planned to do? Are they just going through the motions to make it look like they’ve consulted with the public? Or do they want to actually have it about why and how they choose and achieve their goals?

When engagement is properly conducted, there will be an increase in interaction among participants, an increase in collaborative behaviour, an increase in available information, an increase in commitment to action, an increase in participant satisfaction, an increase in creative options, and ultimately an increase in the well-being of our communities.

Harry Brook is Flagstaff County’s Agricultural Fieldman. He can be reached via email at: or by phone at: 780-384-4138.

Dealing with Salinity Problem Takes Patience


By Harry Brook

Often we don’t consider the soil that grows our crops. There’s a lot happening in the soil, below the surface. Under the dry conditions we experienced this year, there was a lot more salinity showing up around sloughs and in low areas. It shows up as the white patches where nothing is growing. Sometimes you may not see the soil surface but if there is a solid stand of kochia or foxtail barley present, you can be guaranteed that soil is saline. Kochia and foxtail barley have very high tolerances to salinity.

Electrical Conductivity (EC) is used to measure soil salinity by measuring the soil’s ability to conduct electricity, in decisiemens per metre. What is important is the crop’s tolerance to withstand the salt. If your soil test shows salinity below 2 in the top two feet or below 4 in the two- to four-foot level, your soil is non-saline. Just looking at the top two feet, weakly saline is 2 – 4 ds/m, moderately saline is 4 – 8 ds/m, strongly saline is 8 – 16 ds/m and very strongly saline is greater than 16 ds/m. If you see a white crust on the surface, the EC is above 8. There are no annual crops that grow above 16 ds/m. There are a few grass species that can handle very high salinity but choices are very limited. Canola, flax and oats are tolerant at the low range of moderate salinity while barley, wheat and rye are tolerant towards the high end of moderate tolerance.

Where does the salt come from? A lot of the subsoil, down at the four foot or deeper level, is very saline in nature, saturated with sodium, calcium and/or magnesium. When it comes close to the surface, as evaporation pulls it up, it can affect the soil structure. High sodium levels leads to soil layers, close to the surface, forming swelling clays. These swelling clay layers prevent root penetration, stranding the roots in the top part of the soil. That makes them less drought-tolerant, unable to obtain enough nutrients, and cause the crop to have a very uneven height. A lot of the soils in Flagstaff County have this type of subsoil. Bare ground speeds up evaporation and increases the amount of salts left on the surface. Once enough salts have permeated the topsoil, it prevents any crop from growing. Why? All plants obtain water through osmosis. If you have too high a salt content outside the root, water doesn’t move into the plant and the plant dies. You can have a seedling perish for lack of water despite being surrounded by water.

When permanent vegetation around a slough is removed and cultivated, bare soil and heat bring more salts to the surface. Over time, those saline patches get bigger, increasing the non-productive area in a field. Even if the crop grows, you’ll find it stunted and not terribly productive close to these saline patches. If you are clearing around these sloughs and water bodies you are setting yourself up for revenue loss for those acres. Is it really worth it?

In a wet year, the rain tends to wash the salts from the soil surface and you may not see those salts lurking beneath the soil surface. However, they are still there, waiting until they can show up the next dry year.

How can you fix the problem? It’s taken time for it to get bad enough to affect yields, so it will take an adjustment of farming practices and time to improve the situation. It’s a two-step approach to reclaiming saline soils. The first step is to prevent any further salt accumulations. If you can identify the area where the moisture is entering the soil, that’s your recharge area. Seeding this area to alfalfa is one way to interrupt the water flow to the discharge area, the place where the salts are accumulating.

Using perennial plants around the edges of the wet, discharge areas reduces further salt build up. Once a good stand of perennial grasses has established, rain can slowly leach the salts out of the root zone.

It’s taken years to develop a salinity problem and it will take a lot of time to reverse the process. Be patient and keep your soils productive for the long haul.

Harry Brook is Flagstaff County’s Agricultural Fieldman. He can be reached via email at: or by phone at: 780-384-4138.