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City of Edmonton is reducing herbicide use in a creative way

City of Edmonton is reducing herbicide use in a creative way

Goats will be employed to snack on noxious weeds

By Diego Flammini
News Reporter

The City of Edmonton is taking a unique approach to limiting herbicide applications in a community park.

A herd of goats roamed Rundle Park three times between July and September 2017. They ate noxious weeds, such as Canada thistle, leafy spurge, yellow toadflax. The goal is to reduce the amount of herbicide sprayed in the park.

Goats’ stomachs are so acidic they destroy seeds and prevent weeds from spreading. They can also digest weeds that could be toxic to other livestock, according to GoatWorks, Edmonton’s goat-centric weed management strategy.

The City is now on the lookout for a goat coordinator to lead the project for 11 months.

The successful applicant will be responsible for community involvement and monitoring the program’s efficacy.

“The person will be really involved in creating opportunities for Edmontonians to come and check out our herd,” Shannon Wagner, a supervisor with Edmonton’s Operations, Delivery & Partnerships Program, told CTV yesterday.

Interested applicants must have a degree in horticulture, forestry, parks or a related subject. Experience with vegetation management and a basic knowledge of plant health needs are also assets.

And with a salary ranging from $34 to $43 per hour, the job is nothing to bleat at.

But could goats be a viable option on commercial farm operations?

Producers can encounter weeds like Canada thistle in canola and barley fields, and some Ontario wineries have used goats to keep their grape vines clean. But the four-legged weed management system could be more problematic on cash crop operations.

“The goats would probably end up eating the crop too, so I don’t think it would really be an option,” Kevin Serfas, a cash crop producer from Turin, Alta., told today. “You’d have to fence off your field somehow and get a herd of goats in there. It just becomes too much of a hassle.”

Top photo: Say-Cheese / iStock / Getty Images Plus

iStock / Getty Images Plus

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