Proserpine growers, the Faletti family, say diversification, working together and machinery sharing underpin the success of the operation. Brothers Robert, Marc, Maurice, and their father John, together with their wives, own separate cane growing enterprises just north of Proserpine but farm as one unit to produce maximum tonnage from available land in an efficient, sustainable manner.
They share equipment to help minimise the costs of equipment purchase and repairs. This successful cooperation arrangement involves using Andrew’s GPS-guided billet planter and their 1997 model Toft harvester and a 10-tonne Carta bin. This saves them from having to buy extra machinery to each have a complete planting kit.
All cane is trash blanketed on rows mostly 1.6 m wide. They select the most suitable varieties for their mix of soils, which includes alluvial loams and some heavy black clays. Cane is kept young through rotation. Their 8 metre wide, high clearance spray unit based on a Fiat tractor does five rows at a time, covering up to 16 hectares (40 acres) in a day.
They save money by doing much of their own machinery repairs and fabrication. Robert and Marc are qualified mechanics and although Maurice does not have formal trade qualifications he has boiler-making experience and has done a TAFE course.