UPPING THE ANTE ON CANE PRODUCTIVITY AND PROFITABILITY

24 JUNE 2022

Cane growers in the Murray River catchment have help at hand to address productivity constraints.

Sugar Research Australia is working with growers as part of a new project to support the industry’s long-term sustainability.

Project Manager Cathy Mylrea said the project would include extension officer support, financial incentives, demonstration sites and field days with practical demonstrations in the paddock.

She said previous programs had targeted specific practices to improve nutrient management.

“We want to find out what constraints growers have and what they see as the issues, and then support them to address those. For example, if a grower has blocks that are continually low-yielding, we want to work together to figure out why,’’ she said. “It might be due to soil type, drainage issues, or pests and disease. When we know what the root cause is, we have an opportunity to provide services or financial support to address the issue.”

The project will include grower support to create whole-of-farm management plans and to update existing nutrient management plans.

Increases in farm efficiencies and productivity will also bring reef water quality benefits.

James Donaldson from Wet Tropics Waterways said the Murray River catchment had made good progress towards dissolved inorganic nitrogen reduction targets, as reported in the recently released Reef Water Quality Report Card 2020.

“These results reflect the hard work being undertaken by the agricultural industry, and farmers should be congratulated,’’ he said. “While progress towards targets is positive, we know we’ve still got work to do.”

The project in the Murray catchment is part of a broader “Mobilising the Mossman and Murray” project, which is funded by Terrain NRM through the Australian Government’s Reef Trust.

Terrain’s Rowan Shee said Sugar Research Australia was well placed to help growers build on the achievements of previous initiatives.

“Sugar Research Australia’s expertise in evidence-based research, development and adoption activities means they’ve got the right know-how to help growers further improve nutrient use efficiency and productivity,” he said.

Two new agronomists have joined the Sugar Research Australia team to work exclusively on the project, and are based in Tully. Nancy Rincon joins as a senior agronomist, following 16 years with Bundaberg Sugar. Erin Headon is a recent graduate and participated in the Queensland Farmers Federation Agricultural Extension Work Placement Program, where she was hosted by Mackay Area Productivity Services.

The project will run until June 2023.

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