New reality show turns Sask. crop sprayers into TV stars

Don’t tell Bud Jardine that food just comes from a grocery store.

The veteran crop-dusting pilot from Nipawin, Sask., knows better.

Jardine, one of the stars of History Television’s reality seriesDust Up, has spent 41 years on the front lines of the agriculture industry, risking life and limb buzzing low over farmers’ fields in his little spray plane.

His career as a crop duster started when he was an inspector on a defence system in Alberta and British Columbia. He had to oversee five different work crews and quickly collected speeding tickets as he drove between sites.

Fearing he would lose his driver’s licence if he received anymore tickets, he decided to get his pilot’s licence.

In 1966, he returned to his family’s farm north of Saskatchewan’s Torch River Provincial Forest and three years later found his rapeseed fields devoured by bertha armyworms.

He couldn’t find anyone willing to spray at his remote farm and next year decided to take action.

With only 80 hours of flying experience, Jardine bought a plane in Barrhead, Alta., and modified it with a tank bought in Esterhazy, Sask.

He conducted test runs with the tank full of water and then sprayed his fields.

So began the career of one of North America’s longest continuously operating crop dusters.

Terry Mialkowsky,Dust Up’s executive producer and director, realized that the makings for a compelling television show were right under his nose in the summer of 2008.

He’s engaged to Jardine’s daughter, Shannon, and the two were staying on the farm while Mialkowsky helped Jardine as ground crew for the spraying business.

Mialkowsky and Shannon both worked in film and television and eventually convinced Jardine, his son, Brennan, and new crop duster Travis Karle to participate in the show.

They shopped the idea to production companies and were eventually picked up by Vancouver-based Paperny Films.

“The most compelling thing about the show is the relationships that these three men have with each other,” Mialkowsky said.

“The father and son dynamic is something that everyone can relate to, especially if you try and go into business together.”

But to Jardine, the show is largely a chance to showcase the importance of agriculture.

“It sort of lets people know you just don’t get up, sit on the porch and watch the crops grow,” he said.

“It’s a chance to make sure the children in the cities know how those Wheaties got on their table.”

Dust Upairs Thursday nights at 9 p.m. on History Television.

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