Past Events

Please join us for the 2nd AROWRN Conference scheduled for June 14 and 15,  2017 at the Augustana Campus of University of Alberta located in Camrose Alberta.  The original conference, held in May 2012 in Edmonton AB, saw the launch of what has become known in western Canada as the AROWRN technology – the use of fast growing woody fibre (willow, aspen) to absorb effluent as an alternative to the costly expansion of rural sewage lagoons to avoid effluent discharge at capacity.

Natural Resources Canada – Canadian Wood Fibre Centre researchers have been leading the demonstration and evaluation of proven European technology systems for use in western Canada since 2007. Researchers, municipal and provincial government staff, college and university scientists and industry service providers have been collaborating since the original conference in 2012.

Since the May 2012 Conference, the Network has held a series of field days: Beaver and Camrose Counties August 2013, Whitecourt June 2015, Beaverlodge November 2015, and Keoma October 2016. The Network partners have created a body of evidence sufficient to inform a 2nd Conference – entitled AROWRN Connects 2017.

The conference is being organized by the refreshed AROWRN Steering Team with members from the AROWRN Network.

Conference registration will be managed by GPRC Continuing Education AROWRN Registration. For further information, feel free to contact Bruce Rutley PhD PAg Director GPRC Research & Innovation 780-539-2220 for developments.

This collaboration is supported by GPRC Research & Innovation which developed from its Pollutants to Products applied research initiative collaborations.

John Gilliland, OBE

John Gilliland, OBE

John Gilliland, Director of Agriculture with Devenish Nutrition and a Director of Resourceful Organics, is highly respected and recognised as an excellent participant and communicator in the Agri Food and Sustainable Land management Sectors. He has been an award winning Farmer in Ireland and in the UK; an Innovator and Farm Leader; while at the same time, he has been a policy adviser for Devolved, National and European Governments. Just retired as a Non-Executive Director of the Scottish Rural College and SAC Consultancy in Edinburgh, positions he held for the last seven years, John was formerly President of the Ulster Farmers Union during the 2001 outbreak of Hoof & Mouth; Vice Chair of the UK Sustainable Development Commission; and Chair of the UK’s Rural Climate Change Forum. He currently runs his family’s 180ha, arable and willow farm in N. Ireland, while also being a member of the EU Commission’s Expert Industry Panel on Mixed Farming Systems; and currently, chairs N. Ireland’s Expert Working Group, which has just published N. Ireland’s first Sustainable Land Management Strategy for the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, in Belfast. He has recently taken up the position as an External Expert advisor to UK Waitrose Supermarket Chain, on Sustainability with in their Livestock Supply Chain.

Alberta, John Gilliland, Future Direction, June 17

John Gilliland, Role of Woody Species, AROWRN Presentation, Alberta, June 17

Nicolas Brereton, PhD

Nicolas Brereton, PhD

Dr. Brereton received his PhD from Imperial College London for research establishing the causes underlying natural variation in Salix sp. cell wall recalcitrance to deconstruction. After a brief period as an experimental scientist for an Imperial Innovations spin-out company focused on fungal pretreatment of biomass, Mycologix Ltd., he joined the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council’s flagship bioenergy project, BSBEC. As part of BSBEC, he established the Imperial College London biomass analytics facility specialising in compositional analysis and pretreatment of leading bioenergy crops.

Since moving to the University of Montreal, Dr. Brereton has worked for both Genome Canada and the NCE’s Biofuelnet. As part of Genome Canada he headed a metatranscriptomic team specialising in bespoke bioinformatics design. This led to the co-founding of the spin-out company, Transcriptomic Solutions Inc., which consults on gene expression in high complexity non-model organisms. As part of Biofuelnet, his research focuses on developmental responses of short rotation coppice bioenergy crops and hyperaccumulating grasses within phytoremediation and wastewater treatment systems. A guiding ambition of this is to exploit natural tree physiology to help integrate flexible and complementary crop end-uses, such as the induction of valuable extractable phytochemcials and improved net cell wall carbohydrate accessibility.

Nicholas Brereton's Presentation AROWRN Connects

Lou Licht PEng, PhD

Lou Licht PEng, PhD

Louis Licht is founder and president of Ecolotree, Inc. He has synthesized past work and academic experience into a new field of environmental cleanup called phytoremediation or phyto. Beginning in 1981, he has focused his intellectual and business effort on the practical application of root zones to grow a crop while managing water and regulated pollutants. Having grown up on a family farm in Lowden Iowa, he now manages corn and soybean fields to reduce sediment and nitrate draining to streams.

Since 1990, Ecolotree has designed and installed phytoremediation systems at over 120 sites in 33 states that grow trees (principally Populous spp. & Salix spp.). Ecolotree provides the phyto alternative for covering landfills, treating municipal and industrial wastewater, leachate land application, filtering storm water runoff from farms and towns, containing and cleaning shallow polluted groundwater, and redeveloping industrial ‘brown field’ sites. As acceptance grows for the phyto concept, Ecolotree continues to expand its client base and application portfolio.

Dr. Licht serves as an adjunct Associate Professor at The University of Iowa, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He has served as lecturer and instructor for senior design projects at Oregon State University and The University of Iowa. Ecolotree colloaborates with research university faculty to create peer-reviewed phyto science literature dealing with important pollutants including: PCB cleanup from sediments, nitrogen removal from waste water, and treatment of explosive compounds from weapons manufacturing and battlefields.

Ecolotree Research Group grows rhizospheres for tertiary waste water treatment in a unitized PhAGR™ (Phyto Attached Growth Reactor) to displace conventional high energy lagoons or chemical reactors.

Dr. Licht farms his grandfather’s farm in eastern Iowa. Ecolofarm® farm operations include:

  • Two licensed nurseries in Lowden Iowa and Coupeville Washington
  • 90 acres growing commercial corn and soybeans in cooperation with a local farmer
  • 270 acres mature flood plain hardwood forest and Emergency Wetlands Reserve.
Huy Truong Nguyen, MSc.

Huy Truong Nguyen, MSc.

Mr. T.-H. Nguyen is currently a PhD Candidate in the department of Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics - McGill University, where he is working with Prof. V.-T.-V. Nguyen on the topics related to the modelling and the assessment of impact of climate change on the extreme rainfall processes and urban drainage systems. His research focuses on the development of novel methods for accurate estimates of extreme design rainfalls in the current climate and in a changing climate. This topic has attracted many researchers from the field of hydrology and water resources management since the design and management of various hydraulic structures rely on the information on the probability of extreme rainfall occurrence and amount. Mr. Nguyen earned his MSc degree from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Alberta with the research topic focusing on the modelling and the analysis of short rotation coppice systems utilizing the systems dynamics approach. Previously, he worked for the Department of Water Resources Engineering at the University of Danang, Vietnam, for 3 years on topics related to hydrologic and hydraulic modelling, and water resources management. Mr. Nguyen’s work has led to several publications in scientific journals and conference papers.

Additional links:

Wisdom Model Presentation

Richard Krygier

Richard Krygier

 Richard is a researcher project leader with the Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Wood Fibre Centre located in Edmonton. He began working with the Canadian Forest Service in 2001 in reforestation research. In 2005 he transitioned into intensive fibre management research, specifically in the areas of intensive silviculture and short rotation woody crop production. He has been investigating the application of wastewater and biosolids to fast growing woody crops like willows and poplars as a means to increase yields and for waste treatment. Richard has recently expanded his work on the use of woody plants for phytoremediation to forest ecosystems disturbed by industrial activity like oil sands development.

Richard completed his Bachelor of Science in Forestry and his Master of Science in Forestry at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay Ontario. He worked in the forest industry in Ontario, BC and Alberta over 14 years in operational silviculture and forest management.


Martin Labelle

Martin Labelle

Martin is a registered forest technologist from Campbell River with 20 years of forest plantation management expertise on the BC Coast and Interior.  During this time, he coordinated silviculture activities for large forest licensees and developed multi-tenure aerial fertilization projects.  In 2015, he joined Bionera, and was instrumental in establishing the first large scale willow plantation in prairie dry land, a 1000 acre project near Strathmore, AB.  He is currently working on a wastewater project in Saskatchewan and is actively promoting willows as solution to phytoremediation, land reclamation, and bio-energy.

Shawn Northwood

Shawn Northwood

Shawn is a Project Manager with over 8 years of residuals management experience.  He received his Bachelor's degree in Bioenvironmental Chemical Engineering from Queen's University in Kingston.  Shawn began with SYLVIS in 2009 at the New Westminster office as an Environmental Scientist, and has progressed his career in residuals management with experience in program development, project design, and operational implementation and assessment.  At SYLVIS, he has participated in a broad spectrum of projects that have cultivated a unique skillset for his current position as Project Manager in the Calgary, Alberta office where he leads the implementation of the Calgary Demonstration Program.

AROWRN - Connects 2017 Conference - June 14-15

Project Manager Calgary, SYLVIS
Len Hingley

Len Hingley

Len Hingley works out of the Crop Diversification Centre South in Brooks, Alberta as a Soil and Water Specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AAF).  Len has worked for AAF since 1996 and on a wide variety of projects including Variable Rate Irrigation (VRI) of potatoes and irrigation management of soybeans, to the project he is currently working on Irrigation Management of Subsurface Drip on Alfalfa seed production.


Don Harfield

Don Harfield

Don Harfield, P.Eng., P.M.P. Retired

Prior to his retirement in April 2017, Don Harfield focused on research and development projects related to biomass conversion technologies from proof of concept through to demonstration scale production facilities. Don led research projects in agglomeration and biomass combustion technologies, biomass pyrolysis (torrefaction, carbonization, gasification), specialty biochar based products, hydrothermal carbonization (HTC), soils amendments, fertilizer development, municipal solid waste and refuse derived fuels.
He was technical lead for the Alberta Biochar Initiative (ABI) including the successful implementation of research centred around two demonstration scale biochar units and the growth of the ABI membership to over 70 members.
Over the prior 30 years, he was responsible for multi-discipline project management, mechanical engineering, engineering team leadership, and construction site inspection in the Pulp & Paper and Oil & Gas industries in Western Canada.

He continues to be an avid supporter of biochar and pyrolysis technologies and serves in his local community. He is Chair of the Vegreville Economic Development and Tourism Board and is a waste management advisor.

Don and his wife live in Vegreville, Alberta and have four children whose families live in Alberta, Georgia, US and in London England.

Presentation to AROWRN 2017June14 Issued

Joy Agnew

Joy Agnew

Joy grew up on a grain farm near Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and earned her PhD in Ag/Bio Engineering at the U of S.  She has been working has a program manager at the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute in Humboldt, Saskatchewan since 2009 working primarily on projects involving waste to energy technologies and grain drying and storage.  she is also an adjunct professor at the U of s and teaches engineering classes at St. Peter's college in Muenster.

AROWRN Presentation (compressed)

Evan Davies

Evan Davies

Dr. Evan Davies is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and specializes in water resources planning and management.  His research focuses on numerical simulation of the impacts of alternative management policies on water resources at scales from local to global.  He will present the WISDOM model at AROWRN 2017 Connects with Truong-Huy Nguyen.  Dr. Davies received a Ph.D. from the University of Western Ontario (2007), where he developed a systems model of global change that incorporates feedbacks between water use and quality, climate change, economic and population growth, land use change, and the global carbon cycle.  His Masters work at the University of Waterloo (2003) focused on sustainable forest management on Hainan Island, China. Dr. Davies currently works with several federal agencies and provincial funding bodies in Canada, and with a U.S. national laboratory.

Dept of Civil and Envt Engineering, University of Alberta
Andrew Dunlop

Andrew Dunlop

Andrew is a historical geographer with research interests in cultural ecology, natural hazard, and the evolution of landscapes within different environmental contexts. He holds an MSc in geography and a PhD in spatial history, both from the University of Saskatchewan. Andrew’s research work includes mapping shelterbelt application in relation to wind erosion risk. His recent research focusses on the historical role of public institutions in testing and disseminating farm-level agricultural land use innovations in western Canada and the United States. Originally from eastern Manitoba, Andrew is the Director of Research & Innovation at Grande Prairie Regional College. Andrew has long been interested in connecting academic research and teaching with community interests and needs, and is working to expand GPRC’s strong community connections across the Peace region.

Director Research & Innovation, GPRC

Day 1 – Conference (Wahkohtowin Lodge Classroom)

Note: Parking permits are not required in the student and visitor parking areas.

8:00 - 9:00Registration
9:00 - 9:15Welcome & IntroductionsBruce Rutley, GPRC R&I
9:15 - 9:45Crop ManagementMartin Labelle, Bionera
9:45 - 10:15Break
10:15 - 10:45ProductionShawn Northwood, SYLVIS
10:45 - 11:15Irrigation SystemsLen Hingley, AAF, Brooks
11:15 - 12:00Phytoremediation TechnologyLou Licht, Ecolotree
12:00 - 1:00Lunch (Dining Hall)
1:00 - 1:30HarvestingFP Innovations
1:30 - 2:30End Product Use PanelNicholas Brereton, UdeM
Don Harfield - BioChar
2:30 - 3:00Product HandlingJoy Agnew, PAMI
3:00 - 3:15Break
3:15 - 5:30Tour: Ohaton Lagoon Willow ProjectCamrose County
6:00 - 7:00Barbeque (Dining Hall)
7:30 - 8:30Keynote Talk: Woody products role in Agriculture and Environment SustainabilityJon Gilliland




Day 2 – Research Discussion

9:00 - 9:05WelcomeAndrew Dunlop, GPRC R&I
9:05 - 9:45Current Trends and DirectionsJohn Gilliland
9:45 - 10:30CFS / CWFC Research Results updateRichard Krygier, NRCan
10:30 - 11:00Coffee Break
11:00 - 12:00Key Questions ForumAndrew Dunlop, GPRC R&I
12:00 - 12:30What's next? Priorities DiscussionBruce Rutley, GPRC R&I
12:30 - 1:30Lunch (Dining Hall)
1:30 - 4:30Workshop: WISDOM Decision-Support Model (Library Computer Lab)Truong-Huy Nguyen, McGill


Online Registration

Registration options include:

Full Conference Registration $125.00 (including barbeque and International Keynote speaker John Gilliland)

Mid Conference special $40.00 Barbeque and Keynote speaker only

Post Conference Workshop: Wisdom Decision Support Model with Huy Nguyen $0 (limited space)

Conference Hotel: Canalta Camrose


Register Now

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