REGEN CANE FORUM 2021
GROWTH IN REGENERATIVE FARMING
18 FEBRUARY 2021
More than 100 farmers gathered at a cane farming forum in Cairns this week to network, learn and share experiences about growing sugarcane crops using regenerative farming practices. Local farmers showed off a range of regenerative practices including industrial scale composting, cover cropping and minimal tilling.
Soil health-based farming has been gaining ground in the Wet Tropics with many farmers participating in soil workshops and programs – and regenerative farming is the next step in an approach that focuses on improving resources used by farming, including soil.
Ingham cane grower Michael Waring said the Regen Cane Forum was the brainchild of a group of North Queensland farmers and agroecologist David Hardwick, who met at the National Biological Farming Conference held in southern Queensland in 2018.
“This is the second forum we’ve held, the first one was in Ingham two years ago. We wanted to keep networking and learning from other like-minded farmers about practices that promote soil health, improve water cycling and sequester carbon,” Mr Waring said.
“We all agreed there was a real appetite back home for regenerative farming approaches, and we needed somewhere to learn how to take the next steps. There’s a lot of info already out there, but it’s not the same as seeing and hearing practical hands-on stories from other farmers.”
Simon Mattsson travelled from as far as Mackay to attend the forum.
“I’m part of the organising committee, because I’m passionate about regenerative agriculture. I’m here at the forum because no matter how far along the regenerative journey you are, you can always pick up something new,” he said.
Small groups visited different farm sites, giving farmers the chance see and hear from others who have implemented specific changes on their farm, or even redesigned their whole farming system.
Additional masterclasses in composting and cover cropping were also available.
Agroecologist David Hardwick said the four key themes of regenerative cane farming are paddock operations, cover cropping, soil health and holistic nutrient management.
“Shifting to a regenerative approach can completely transform someone’s farming business and that’s why we’re seeing more and more farmers getting involved. Regenerative farming just makes sense. There’s a big list of benefits for farmers, as well as the environment,” Mr Hardwick said.
The forum was made possible with support from Terrain Natural Resource Management, MSF Sugar, Soil Land Food, the Australian Government’s Reef Trust IV Program and the Queensland Government.