By Melissa Damiani, Central AB Producer & Sales/Agronomist
canolaPALOOZA has become well-known as the biggest canola event of the summer, and anyone who has been there can absolutely see what all the talk is about!
I was lucky enough to attend this year’s event on June 27th at the Lacombe Research & Development Centre. This was the biggest canolaPALOOZA event yet and featured more than 25 learning stations and over 100 instructors, including Western Canada’s leading researchers and agronomy specialists.
It is a fantastic learning event for people with all levels of experience, training and disciplines within the industry. Although it is geared towards producers, it is also a place for agronomists, researchers, industry professionals and anyone who has any interest in seeing what growing crops is all about – farm experience or not!
Hosting some of the best and brightest in the industry, canolaPALOOZA offers an opportunity to be able to speak first hand with experts and specialists who work with canola, wheat and pulses and many other industry experts who help educate on all aspects of the farm.
I have been to this event before, so I showed up hoping to quickly tour through and ask a few questions before getting back to work. I ended up spending the entire day there asking questions and having great in-depth discussions with the experts that were there! What an awesome event and a wonderful one-on-one learning opportunity for people with all levels of experience.
Not only do you have experts there to answer all your questions, but almost all of the stations have actual plots with live plants/bugs/diseases/equipment, etc. so you can get in, get your hands and boots dirty, and gain first hand physical experience with the topics you are discussing. The staff at the Lacombe Research Centre do an exceptional job of planting these plots for our learning experience.
Also unique to this event is the fun carnival atmosphere. There were ball-toss games, spin the wheel, Plinko, golf, and so much more! What a way to make the day even more exciting and keep you entertained. Not to mention you can win prizes. For those who tend to be a little introverted, like me, this is a great way to break the ice to learn something new. Bring the whole family – even the kids will stay entertained with all the fun learning experiences that are happening all around. When you get hungry from all the learning there are several food trucks with so many tasty options to choose from. There is no designated lunch hour, so stop when you get hungry, visit with a neighbor, and get back to the fun and learning!
Summer is such a busy time, but one of the many benefits of canolaPALOOZA is that there is no schedule of events. Come when you can – come for an hour or stay all day! Visit the plots in any order you wish. There are no start times. Although there were probably over 800 people that attended, it never felt crowded or busy. You can always walk up to a booth and start a discussion, and there is always something to learn by joining and listening in on another ongoing discussions.
canolaPALOOZA is a place to meet old friends and make new ones. Meet up with your neighbors, or talk with growers from a different area altogether. I never met a person who was unpleasant or unwilling to share experiences or insight.
Can you believe this event is FREE? A big thank-you to everyone involved, including Alberta Canola, Canola Council of Canada and the Lacombe Research and Development Centre for hosting. Thank you to and all the sponsors for keeping this fun learning event free for all that want to attend.. This event is well worth the time you take to attend, and I know of no others like it. You have the opportunity to get so much value from one day and one place. The countdown is on until I can attend again in 2019!
Here are a few of the learning stations I enjoyed:
- Stand Establishment, Fertility and Pre-seed burnoff and tank mixes- I learned about TSW and how it impacts your seeding rates, and optimal plant densities. Looked at fertilizer damage in the demonstration plots and discussed options for managing seed-placed fertilizer in canola. Explored different cultural and chemical pre-seed weed control options.
- Canola diseases like Clubroot (management, prevention and what role does pH play in clubroot infestations?), Blackleg (how can I best use blackleg resistance genes to protect my farm’s long-term profitability?), Sclerotinia (great discussions on new research exploring bud-stage fungicide application & new prediction tools), Verticillium (how to ID and where has it been found?)
- Bugs! Insect pests, including CSPW and flea beetle management and updates. Beneficial insects (look at all of our friends in the field! Predators, parasites, viruses and bacteria can control pests for free.) Bees (see how canola has a sweet relationship with all pollinators and the mutually beneficial partnership with bee-keepers.)
- Combine Optimization & Harvest Management- check out the new Combine Optimization Tool online to help adjust your combine during harvest, and talk to experts about swathing and straight cutting.
- Agrabot: Open Source DIY Autonomous Tractor. Check out what is being developed now. Auto Steer, Section control, and Autonomous Ag Vehicles for minimum cost that can be built at home. Watched how to set up a field and then seen a tractor complete that field all on its own. Wow! It’s exciting to learn about today’s technology and the possibilities and potential of open source for the future.
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.
Thanks Melissa for sharing your story!