Ardina Jackson: From Australia to canolaPALOOZA

July 2, 2019

by Ardina Jackson, Agronomist, Australia

Australian agronomist Ardina Jackson planned a trip to canolaPALOOZA as part of her Western Canadian tour .

The 2019 Alberta canolaPALOOZA took place on June 26 in Lacombe, and I was lucky enough to be joining what was expected to be the biggest crowd to date.

Hailing from Australia on a study tour journey, I’d been planning my canolaPALOOZA attendance a year in advance. I’d received a personal recommendation from a Canadian in the Downunder Land to check out this fantastic event. So, after a few hours research, a dozen e-mails and my itinerary booked in I was looking forward to seeing what the Agronomy Event of the Summer really had to offer.

As the date neared, I registered online and was surprised this event had free gate entry! That was pretty impressive considering how many presenters, administration and exhibitors would be giving up their time to talk about everything to do with canola and other crops. The Lacombe Research and Development Center was an excellent place to host the event.

With the help of Autumn Barnes (Canola Council of Canada), Rick Taillieu (Alberta Canola) and Dale Burns (Bayer CropScience) I arrived at the event very early on Wednesday morning and was able to gain a respect for how much effort everyone involved gives to the Palooza.

Jennifer Otani and the junior entomologists hosted ground beetle races at canolaPALOOZA

As the tents were being set up and the sun was beginning to crawl out from behind the clouds, it looked like the day was off to positive start. The first of the attendees began to roll in around 9:30am and they just didn’t stop. From clubroot tents, to pulses, to wheat varieties, honey bees, and everything in between, there was a station to take everyone’s fascination.

Physical examples of bugs and plants took up most of the tables and plot ground around the site. It was a truly interactive environment. The sharp minds of the industry experts were ready to answer any question, and never hesitated to offer insight to a curious onlooker. It was surprising just how willing to chat everyone was. You could become easily absorbed in the day as they catered to anyone’s learning style. Detailed and factual displays paired well with the free water as it ensured attendees stayed hydrated and focused on getting the most out of the day.

I noticed many farmers at the event, but also an insatiable curiosity among agronomists and experts to investigate many of the tents themselves and network with the crowd. However, this was no ordinary networking. I’d never seen such humour and inventiveness to entertain the attendees. The atmosphere was full of optimism and good spirits. There was dunk tanks which kept the children and adults entertained alike. Brian Kennedy from Alberta Wheat was a fantastic target for the day. Luckily, he had a spare set of clothes.

Dr. Breanne Tidemann from AAFC in Lacombe talked to hundreds of farmers and agronomists about harvest weed seed management at canolaPALOOZA

An Australian invention was also on display at the event. The Harrington Weed Seed Destructor. Breanne Tidemann and the crew were there to answer many growers’ questions about the control of weed seeds from what was learned on their Australian travels. It was curious to see their adaption of the machine to the Canadian environment. It was the reverse of what I was learning, to find what Australia could take on-board to improve our food production. It’s incredible what can happen when agricultural minds get together from different countries to share and prolong the future sustainability of the industry.

Various tents also held new technology, agricultural companies, chemical and residual plot trials as well as seed planting trials. The use of the vacuum planter to reduce seed per acre rates and subsequent seed costs was also interesting. It was the perfect learning environment for any level of industry involvement. They also gave informative group discussions and in-depth debate about producer problems or future direction. No matter where I looked, there were happy people engrossed in information and conversation.

As the day drew to a close, I enjoyed a hot meal from one of the various food trucks & said my goodbyes just as a storm began to break over the event. It was well timed as the weather had held off all day and allowed everyone to enjoy themselves thoroughly.

canolaPALOOZA – Palooza being defined as an “extravagant party with a plethora of friends”- and it certainly was. The networking and education that everyone received about canola and other various cropping practices certainly brought the industry closer. It was one terrific day, and I can say that I made some wonderful friends.

If you haven’t yet been to canolaPALOOZA event, I urge you to make an effort to join in for the day. The hard work, effort and energy that the team puts into this event ensures it’s a fantastic time and certainly should be supported. So, here’s to double the numbers next year – I might even be back with a few friends!


Ardina Jackson is touring Western Canada as part of a Big Brother Movement – Global Industry Scholarships in Agriculture (bbm.asn.au). You can follow Ardina’s adventures on twitter at @ardinajackson

The team of 140 researchers, agronomists, and industry experts gathered for a group picture at the canolaPALOOZA site before spreading out over 26 learning stations.


Alberta Canola Connects is your window into the activities of the Alberta Canola Producers Commission as we work both locally and globally to help contribute to the long term success of canola farmers in Alberta. 

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