Our growers. Our story

Our growers.    Our story

CANEGROWERS believes that Queensland's cane farmers are doing remarkable things when it comes to protecting and caring for their environment and the Great Barrier Reef.

For many years our members have been involved in an amazing array of projects and trials, and designed and implemented innovative and creative solutions, to improve productivity and profitability and reduce the impact of farming on the environment.

This is a snapshot of some of our growers and their stories from the past few years.

We acknowledge the efforts and commitment of all Queensland cane farmers who have proudly taken on the role of environmental stewards for many decades and will continue to do so long into the future.


Aaron Linton has used Reef Programme funding to trial a new drip irrigation system against traditional furrow irrigation. Watch more.



Angle Mustafa has taken advantage of Reef Programme funding with three initiatives in operation on his farm, each directly tied to reducing nutrient, pesticide and sediment run-off into the Great Barrier Reef lagoon. Watch more.


Bevan Manderson has reduced water use and electricity costs on his farm thanks to more accurate flow-rate data and a new overhead centre pivot system funded in part under the Reef Programme. Watch more.


Brian Dore is one of a group of Tully growers who participated in a trial of new satellite technology to address crop yield variations within blocks, with the ultimate aim to improve the quality of water flowing into the Great Barrier Reef. Read more.


Chris Russo secured funding under the Reef Programme to trial a split fertiliser application strategy on his farm, which has the potential to change the way cane growers across the industry fertilise their crops. Read more.  


Drew Watson is one of many Wet Tropics cane growers reaping the benefits from one-on-one nutrient planning sessions funded by the Reef Trust III program. Read more.


Eric Barbagallo is combining the cost-saving power of high efficiency pumps with the generation power of solar, to slash thousands off his quarterly bills and embark on a long-term upgrade of his farm's irrigation network. Read more.


Gary Raiteri is using soil probes and weather stations to ensure he irrigates his crops only when needed for maximum growth, while changes to his irrigation machinery and practices has resulted in less water and electricity costs, reduced run-off and increased productivity. Watch more.

Gary Spotswood and wife Angela took out the Reef Conservation Award in 2017 for their work in restoring the ecological function of a coastal wetland on their property. Read more.


Gerry Deguara and his sons are employing a range of farming methods helping to boost productivity and deliver environmental benefits for the Great Barrier Reef, including implementing a fallow program as a way of aiding soil health and putting nitrogen back into the ground 'nature's way'. Watch more.

Glen Fasano and his sons Scott and Michael are using peanut fallows to increase organic matter in the soils and breaking the monoculture, while also making some money. Read more.


Greig Zunker and his father Graham have made the switch to a low-pressure lateral overhead irrigation system in a bid to reduce energy consumption and increase crop irrigation efficiencies. Watch more.


Joe Marano says using SIX EASY STEPS has helped him to develop unique nutrient management plans for the different soil types on his farm, helping to save him money and reduce fertiliser run-off into the surrounding environment. Watch more.


Layton Mitchell has had to employ a wide range of water management systems on his farm to deal with diverse weather patterns including cyclones and drought. Read more.


Lenny Parisi took out the esteemed Prince of Wales Environmental Leadership - Reef Sustainability Award at the 2019 Reef Champion Awards for converting seven hectares of cane land to a wetland environment. Read more.


Lindsay Travers is one of several Cairns region growers who signed up to trial a unique variable rate fertiliser applicator that has the potential to dramatically reduce inorganic nitrogen use on cane farms. Read more.


Mario Raccanello has responded to the challenge of protecting the Great Barrier Reef by trialling bio-fertiliser on his farm in an effort to reduce nitrogen run-off. Read more.



Mark Hatch took part in a pilot project in the Burdekin using conjunctive use bores to combat rising groundwater levels in the region. Watch more.


Michael Santarossa and his father Alan have introduced nutrient management plans, laser levelled their blocks and converted to a 1.8m row system. Read more.


Paul Gregory says his decision to convert his farm to a GPS-mapped controlled traffic system was based on improving productivity and profitability, as well as the associated environmental benefits to his farm and the surrounding landscape. Read more.


Paul Mizzi has designed a prototype zonal ripper to reach soil more than 1-metre beneath the surface to break through compacted soil and reduce water and fertiliser run-off. Read more.


Paul Schembri (CANEGROWERS Chairman) is leading by example having achieved Smartcane BMP accreditation in 2016. He has challenged cane growers to undertake the process themselves and get the message out about the good work being done to protect the Great Barrier Reef. Read more.


Peter Greensill, together with brothers Lex and Andrew, co-own the Greensill Farming Group which has installed a high efficiency furrow irrigation system, focused on reticulation, reduction of chemical and nutrient run-off and overall water efficiency. Read more.  


Ray Vicarioli has implemented a range of techniques to deal with an oversupply of water on his farm, including a sophisticated sub-surface drainage system to minimise run-off and maximise the storage of nutrients in soil. Read more.


Richard Padovan is using a combination of plantings and the construction of a 30 metre rock wall designed to fix eroding stream banks by increasing their ability to withstand high water flow events. Read more.


Robert Bonassi is focused on fallow crops, mill by-products and soil tests in his transition to cane that is less reliant on artificial fertilisers. Read more.


The Rossi family at Gordonvale is improving soil health and reducing their farm's nitrogen inputs by 30% by making compost on a large scale. Watch more.


Sam Spina and brother Michael have slashed their fertiliser rates and costs by planting fallow crops, varying fertiliser application rates across paddocks, laser-levelling cane land and installing spoon drains. Read more.


Steven Bonso and his father Leo have reduced soil compaction levels by using wider 1.8m rows. They use a controlled traffic system with GPS autosteer on their tractors. Read more.