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The common reed, a sore point for a farmer

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Also known as European common reed, phragmites are present in Ontario for almost 70 years.

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The spread of common reed has been a growing problem in Ontario for several years. This invasive plant is considered a threat to biodiversity and can cause problems for agricultural land.

Jeannette Mongeon is co-owner of the Michel Dignard and Jeannette farm Mongeon in Embrun, in Eastern Ontario. With the help of shovels and earthmoving equipment, she spares no effort to eliminate the common reeds that take root in her pond and in her fields.

The common reeds kill the cattails, but it's the cattails that clean my water. The reeds get into the ditches and it kills the natural flowers. Then, we have bees, we don't want to feed them with sugar.

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Jeanette Mongeon is co-owner of the Michel Dignard and Jeannette Mongeon farm, in Embrun.

Ms. Mongeon would like to see the province of Ontario become more involved in managing this problem.

It’s frustrating because we removed everything, but Highway 417 is full. We're doing all this work just so it can continue and start again. I would like the province to at least do its part to stop them, she explains.

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The common reed has a tendency to smother the plants in its path in addition to spreading very easily along the roads .

This plant gives farmers headaches, particularly because it greatly affects drainage.

Naomi Langlois-Anderson is a wildlife technician and flora at South Nation Conservation. According to her, everyone should do their part to try to control the common reed.

It's very difficult to remove it from a field. And then it takes several years to do it. We have plans to work in partnership with several agencies, municipalities, the Ministry of Transport, because it is so widespread that we have to work together, she explains.

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Naomi Langlois-Anderson is a wildlife technician for South Nation Conservation.

In a written response sent to Radio-Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation explains that it has been spraying herbicides along Highway 417 in addition to actively mowing grass for several years to prevent the spread of invasive species.

Efforts continue this year. Priority locations have been designated.

Janice M. Gilbert, executive director of the Invasive Phragmites Control Centre, is part of a working group in Ontario developing a coordinated response to reed management.

She says the Department of Transportation is making efforts to control them.

The reason they do it , is that it poses a threat to their infrastructure, because this plant grows through the asphalt and this poses visibility problems, she explains.

Janice Gilbert says she sees the future with optimism since the level of engagement in this issue has increased considerably over the last 10 years, notably due to of the arrival of BASF Canada's Habitat Aqua herbicide to the country in 2021, a tool that helps combat common reed.

Finally having a safe aquatic herbicide changes everything for us, she says.

For her part, Jeannette Mongeon hopes that the different groups will succeed in working together to win the fight against the common reed.

We can't do it alone, she maintains.

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