Lethbridge (Rural Roots Canada) – The conversation around clubroot in canola between farmers and rural municipalities in Alberta has evolved from confrontational to collaborative since it was declared a pest under the province’s Agricultural Pests Act (APA) in April of 2007.

Aaron Van Beers is the President of the Association of Alberta Agricultural Fieldmen and Manager of Ag Services for Leduc County.

He says initially, it was strictly a zero-tolerance policy on their side.

“If we found a little bit of clubroot, we would issue a notice saying you can’t grow canola for five years, six years, whatever the case may have been at that time,” says Van Beers.

He admits it was a little more confrontational with producers because there was this big, they’re against them and preventing them from growing their cash crop, which is going to help them keep their farms alive.

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As time has passed, Van Beers says it has become more collaborative.

“We’re going out there, we’re finding the clubroot, we’re letting them know.”

He says that giving producers the information to help mitigate the risk has made a huge difference.

“There are still those types of issues where it’s a heavy infestation, and they really should stay out of canola for a few years, but knowing that and working with them and explaining why that needs to be done, it usually goes a lot better.”

He says this has created a much more collaborative environment where both sides try to help each other.

At the same time, he says there has been a significant shift in producer’s practices.

“We’ve seen a big stretch in rotations, we’re starting to see at least a two-year break, usually a three-year break, sometimes even more, whereas before, it used to be like a canola wheat rotation.”

Van Beers says they have seen them utilize the resistant varieties, minimize their tillage as best they can, and try to stay on top of it.