BMP: The new program will use all the best bits of all the great existing programs
There are already a lot of products which have been developed over the past 30 years.
The Smartcane BMP project will consolidate and build on this and emerging work. It will also build on the successful Reef Rescue program, and be integrated into any future Reef Rescue-type initiatives.
Why best practice is always changing
The industry has a set of Best Management Practices (BMP) - the best techniques and technology known to the industry currently - as a guideline for growing sugarcane in Australia. It is important to remember that BMPs are continually changing as research discovers better ways of doing things - and growers are continually evolving their farming practices to keep pace with those changes. Because one size doesn't fit all - every cane grower has different soils, weather, and geography - the BMPs are used as a guide, together with local advice, to build and improve their own farm management system.
Every grower has a farm management system
Every farmer already has their own individual farm management system which is the way a grower does things on their farm – the way they plan, assess and improve the farming operation.
Tools: a means to and end
These days, cane growers need to have a large amount of information and knowledge at their fingertips to farm successfully. They need to stay in touch with issues affecting them, ranging from their legal requirements, to those practical matters leading to better farming practice and greater profitability.
Some growers do their farm managing at an informal level - in their heads - while others collect and record farm information electronically to help them plan, manage and improve their farming operations. There is an increasing focus by government on filling out paperwork - documenting every activity - so they can easily see that we are farming responsibly and well.
The sugarcane industry has developed a basic set of support tools, which can be used by growers to build and improve their own farm’s management system
Growers can use the tools to assist them document their farm plans – without having to start from scratch. The tools are a means to and end - they are essentially a set of resources which growers can use to help them build a farm management system which meets their farming and legal requirements.
As well as helping growers access relevant information by bringing it together in one place, the sugar industry provides self-assessments and farm plan templates which can be customised by growers so that when they decide to upgrade management of their systems and records, they will not have to start from scratch.
|Regulation removal: platform for strong cane industry
The removal of regulations was one of CANEGROWERS six imperatives for campaigning parties coming into the Queensland State election in early 2012. Regulation had been introduced for sugarcane growers some three years earlier during the 2009 election, when with the then Bligh-led government had made it an election promise to secure the then important green vote.
Since the change of government, the incoming Newman-led government has worked closely with peak group CANEGROWERS to come up with a system of milestones to be met, by which it could hand back control of the industry to the industry, and wind back regulation.
Today growers are expected to justify their every action – to the community, to government and to their neighbours. Instead of having every grower conduct time-consuming research of the most important legislation and information for their operation, and developing systems and records from scratch, the new Smartcane BMP will give them an easier way of pulling this information together.
Farm industries across Australia are being told they must self-regulate or government will regulate them. The sugar industry has worked to keep good relationships with export customers, by assuring them that we are currently developing a system of environmental checks and balances which is encompassed within the Smartcane BMP program. The government strongly supports the sugarcane industry in creating its own program, and is the Queensland Government is funding the development of the Smartcane BMP tools.
The Smartcane BMP will:
- Help growers use more profitable and sustainable farming practices.
- Show the public that cane growers are good stewards of land and water
- Demonstrate to government that our industry can manage natural resources responsibly without additional government regulation.
What Growers say they want
- A way to stay in business – profitably
- A clear, straightforward plan of how to improve on-farm practices and the bottom line
- A means of “drought-proofingÂ their farm
- Simplified farming requirements
- A simpler way of complying with environmental regulations
- Recognition and verification for what they are already doing
- Grower-driven self-regulation, not government imposed regulation
- Improved access to financial assistance and natural resources (such as water)
- Better relationships with neighbours and the community
- A way to show they are “environmentally friendly
BMP can help achieve this because
- Is an easy-to-use management tool for improving on-farm practices
- Shows how to improve profit and sustainability
- Simplifies farm management by integrating on-farm programs such as COMPASS, Chemcert, etc
- Identifies potential savings through more efficient use of resources such as water, fuel and fertiliser
- Helps manage variability in production and risk from adverse weather
- Shows how to get a safer working environment
- Improves access to financial assistance and resources by showing you are a good manager
- Helps growers identify, understand and comply with legislation and regulations
- Helps with goal setting, record keeping and monitoring
- May result in a future market advantage
- Safeguards future access to markets and to resources such as water entitlements
- Is voluntary and available to every cane grower
- Helps growers to manage the possible impacts of farming on the environment
- Can be used to demonstrate good environmental stewardship
What do you need to do?
Put simply BMP is a system where farmers know the best farming practices for their own farm, know the risks in their farming system, record what they are doing now and record how they are handling the risks and meeting best practices.
Many cane growers are well down the BMP track. Anyone who has completed COMPASS, Land & Water Management Planning or Chemcert is well and truly on the way.
To show government and the community that we are doing the right thing, we need to record what we do.
BMP can be applied to any activity done by a cane grower on their farm. The system is flexible - growers can choose which areas are relevant to them and how much detail they wish to go into.
Farmers everywhere are facing increasing economic and environmental pressures. At the same time it is harder to make a profit by growing cane. We must change the way we do things if we want to stay in business.
BMP is useful to help growers identify what they need to do to run successful, profitable farms and show government and the community that we are responsible managers of Australia’s natural resources including soil and water.
A Smartcane BMP support tools will be a set of easy to use voluntary support tools which sugarcane growers can use to improve cane farming practices and farm profitability.
At the same time the information to come out of the Smartcane BMP project will help the cane industry show that they are farming responsibly. This is especially important given the cane growing industry’s exposed location near to major population centres in Queensland’s coastal regions which makes our activities more likely to be criticised by some members of the public.
Many cane growers have already taken the first steps towards BMP by having completed COMPASS, Chemcert, Water Use Efficiency, Land & Water Management Plans, Harvest Best Practice and GrubPlan. Smartcane BMP will be a cost-effective and simple way of bringing all these things under one umbrella. More importantly, it will helps improve the profitability of your farming operation while helping the environment.
BMP shows that the sugarcane industry is serious about farming responsibly and that farmers like you are managing your land wisely. BMP ensures that your farm is left in the best possible shape for the next generation.
Frequently asked questions
Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about implementing a BMP on-farm.
Am I going to have to change the way I do everything?
- Probably not. Many growers find that they are already doing much of what BMP recommends. And the system is flexible enough for farmers to develop their own best practices
- Every grower should be aware of and comply with, current statutory requirements.
Why should I implement BMP on my farm?
- BMP has been developed to help growers identify areas for improvement on their farms. Whether you are a new grower or an established grower there is always room for improvement. SRA can help you improve farm management, productivity and most importantly - profitability.
- We need to ensure the safety and health of our families and employees.
- BMP will help you identify areas of risk on your farm that have the potential to cost you money now or in the future.
- It's always better to control our own destiny rather than have someone control us. BMP will allow us the flexibility to put in place practices that are best suited to our own farms.
- When we identify and use the best available practices we increase crop production and improve safety with less impact on the environment.
- By documenting our planning and practices we show that we are responsible (we demonstrate ‘due diligence’).
- Through taking on BMP, we are increasing our probability of being able to maintain access to agricultural chemicals and new biotechnology.
- Financial incentives may become available to those with a BMP program.
How much is it going to cost me?
- Making changes to maximise productivity and profitability as a result of BMP will cost time and money but we expect to become more profitable from adopting best farming practices.
- If we identify a serious area of risk, then we need to consider the potential cost of NOT fixing it.
What do I have to do to comply with BMP?
- The first stage will be a self-assessment o see what you do well and what you can improve.
- Develop plans that tackle the areas that need improvement.
- Show that the plans have been followed by documenting what you did.
- Review how effective your changes have been.
- Contact CANEGROWERS or SRA to find out about a training program in your area.
This industry initiative has been funded by the Queensland Government in partnership with peak sugarcane body CANEGROWERS