Cane Farmers Converge With Solutions for the Future

February 27, 2017

Project Catalyst farmer Chris Condon

Wet Tropics Project Catalyst farmer, Chris Condon

Queensland cane farmers with an appetite for change gathered to discuss farming solutions for the future at the 2017 Project Catalyst Forum.

Their message? It’s time to get on board. Innovative farming practices deliver benefits to our environment, the Great Barrier Reef, and to farmers’ bottom line.

Project Catalyst as part of the Wet Tropics agriculture innovation program, supports farmers who are leading the way in the use of cutting-edge management practices for a more sustainable and profitable farming future.

This year’s forum is being held in Mackay, and will be a chance for growers to discuss innovation trials taking place in paddocks across the state. Terrain CEO Carole Sweatman said that it is encouraging to see Wet Tropics landholders contribute to the development and wider adoption of improved farm management practices in the sugar industry.

“There’s a lot of innovation investment in the Wet Tropics. Project Catalyst reduces the time it takes for a great innovative idea to become a proven practice. We know that we’re better working together, and the role Terrain plays in building partnerships and linkages, and facilitating knowledge sharing between Project Catalyst farmers is an important framework that we can use to make sure we’re delivering targeted support to growers to accelerate the rate of change.”

Terrain’s Project Catalyst Coordinator, Michael Waring, in the lead up to the forum, said “Project Catalyst support some of the key drivers of innovation in the Wet Tropics enabling them to progress their ideas faster. Innovation support is an essential service.

Growers like Chris Condon agree: “These kinds of trials are so important because they’re often the only way to get into new technology and practices … If you’re not innovating, you’re going backwards,” he said.

Terrain NRM is proud to have a long association with the project, now supporting 39 Project Catalyst growers in Herbert, Tully, Innisfail, Cairns and Mossman.

Project Catalyst is a diverse partnership that brings farmers together with The Coca-Cola Foundation, WWF, the Australian Government, Bayer CropScience, regional NRM Groups (Reef Catchments, Terrain NRM and NQ Dry Tropics) and Catchment Solutions.

Highlights at this year’s forum include presentations from SwarmFarm Robotics Chair Campbell Newman and trial findings presented by the growers, with a focus on emerging technologies.

“Ultimately though the forum is about growers learning from growers – finding out what they’ve been doing and exploring how to make those concepts available to the wider cane industry,” said Reef Catchments’ Craig Davenport.

For more information about this year’s Project Catalyst Forum, follow #PC2017 on our  Twitter or Facebook pages, or read more on our Catalyst web page