AROWRN Connects 2017

It all started in Western Canada in 2006.  Researchers at the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre (CWFC) of the Canadian Forest Service (CFS), Natural Resources Canada, established Short Rotation Woody Crop (e.g., willow and poplar) agroforestry plantations patterned on successful developments in Europe.  Six rural Alberta based plantations were designed to be augmented with treated effluent from rural municipal lagoons, under Alberta’s climate, soil and water conditions.  The intent of these projects was to evaluate the efficiency and environmental implications of integrating waste disposal with wood fibre production, i.e., willow for biomass production or fast-growing poplar.

CFCW researchers led this initiative through 2012 with the help of collaborators at each site.  However, in December 2011, they conspired to inspire the site collaborators to come together at Conference in order to share the stories and experiences of each site.  They sought to determine if a more formal collaboration would be able to advance technology uptake.  In the spring of 2012, University, College and Government researchers, Municipal Government and industry partners came together at conference, shared their stories and formed the Alberta Rural Organic Waste to Resources Network (AROWRN).

Since then, near annual Field Days have enabled the Network to experience not only the growth and harvest of the plantations but the growth of a body of knowledge and experience. The August 29 2013 – Beaver and Camrose Counties featured an application of bio-solids project (Beaver County) and plantation (Ohaton) and production system in Camrose County.  Time and yield studies were conducted at the Town of Whitecourt site (April 2015) and at the Town of Beaverlodge site (November 2015) under winter harvesting conditions.  The most recent study – harvest productivity and equipment comparison – was conducted at Keoma (October 2016).  The studies are complete and are ready to be shared and discussed at conference.

It’s Time to Meet.

It’s time to meet again to discuss the results, and to share what’s been learned both here and in Europe since the Network first met in the 2012. AROWRN Connects 2017 is that conference.

AROWRN Connects 2017 will bring together the organizations research team members in a partnership / networking / research-planning meeting June 14-15th, 2017 primarily to review what we have learned since AROWRN was formed (research and industry updates) and to revise research plans and activities accordingly.

The European experience will be keynoted by John Gilliland a highly respected Irish short rotation woody crop pioneer.  Lou Licht will keynote the US experience.  Dr. Nicolaus Brereton will lead a panel of experts on woody biomass value-added products.  Huy Nguyen will introduce participants to the Wisdom Model in a conference ending workshop.  In between, updates on the sites, production practices, the results of the studies, and identification of research and commercialization gaps.  A ‘where to from here’ discussion will summarize the conference.

Short rotation woody crops, in concert with biomass harvesting for cogeneration and value-added extraction products is successful in Europe.  AROWRN is demonstrating how this technology can become a successful part of the rural Alberta and eventually, the Western Canada Landscape.  Join us June 14 and 15 at the Augustana Campus of the University of Alberta in beautiful Camrose AB.