The city of Edmonton says it’s getting a head start on its battle with dandelions this season.
Iron chelate has already been applied to on some of Edmonton’s 1,465 sports fields, with up to 20 fields being treated daily.
The city said the first round of application of the herbicide will be competed in two to three weeks.
“We heard that Edmontonians want us to address dandelions more aggressively and earlier in the season to ensure our open spaces remain in good condition throughout the spring,” open space operations general supervisor Travis Kennedy said.
“We’ve taken significant steps to strengthen our turf maintenance program this year, including the targeted use of iron chelate on sports fields to make them safer and more playable, as well as increased mowing on parkland.”
In April, the city said it tendered to purchase 48,000 litres of an the iron-based herbicide to ward off dandelion-covered sports fields.
The city said iron chelate, which was first used last year in Edmonton, is one of the lowest-risk herbicides because it dries quickly, doesn’t have a strong odour, doesn’t leave a chemical residue on the grass and poses negligible health or environmental risks.
Iron chelate is five times more expensive than the conventional 2,4-D herbicides included in a 2015 city council policy banning the use of herbicides for aesthetic purposes.
Kuehne said the public tender will allow the city to award the contract “to the most cost-effective supplier who also meets our specifications within this competition.”
In recent years, the city’s sports fields were overrun with the weed. Last year, city officials said a perfect storm of a wet spring combined with hot, sunny weather resulted in a severe problem on sports fields.
It created a firestorm of frustration and criticism from city councillors and residents about the condition of fields and open spaces caused by the weed.
Last December, city council agreed to spend $3 million more on turf maintenance for its sports fields: an extra $1 million to bring back the iron chelate and $2 million on mowing more often.
The city said people should avoid fields while they’re being sprayed, but they’re safe to use about 30 minutes to three hours later. Signs will be posted at fields as they’re sprayed to notify the public.
The city said it’s also increasing mowing to reduce the amount of dandelions at parks by moving before they go to seed.
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