A network of community GPS base stations and a drone are taking big costs off the ledger for Innisfail region sugarcane growers investing in precision agriculture. It's an example of CANEGROWERS helping members with shared technology to boost productivity and make farming more sustainable. Join the CANEGROWERS Virtual Bus Tour to see them in action on farms, on the ground and in the sky.
This episode of the CANEGROWERS Virtual Bus Tour is all about soil health in the Mackay region. Grower Lindsay Neilsen uses farm practices to nurture the microbes in his soil and is part of the CANEGROWERS enhanced efficiency fertiliser project, known as EEF60. Gradual release products are being compared with more conventional fertilisers at different rates. The trials are being run with Queensland Government and Sugar Research Australia support.
Visit the Mirriwinni farm of Steven Bonso to look at his subsurface drainage and the best practice farming methods that boost his soil health and reduce fertiliser applications. One tactic is adding mill ash using the CANEGROWERS Cairns Region banded spreader, a resource available to all members in the region.
On the Atherton Tableland in far north Queensland, CANEGROWERS is helping members make the most of new communication and monitoring tools which help with irrigation decisions. This Virtual Bus Tour video shows how two different soil moisture probes work and the valuable information they provide - all in the name of more efficient and productive cane farms.
What does the farm of a Queensland Reef Champion look like? Visit Len Parisi and his farm in the Mulgrave Valley where natural ecosystems, water filtration and a productive cane growing business thrive side-by-side. Len won the 2019 Prince of Wales Environmental Leadership Reef Sustainability Award and he’s not finished yet.
A tropical low in 2019 flooded thousands of hectares of Queensland sugarcane farms. With the help of CANEGROWERS Industry Recovery Officers in the Herbert River and Burdekin districts, growers have repaired damage to paddocks and roads to be more resilient in the future. The work was funded by Special Disaster Assistance Recovery Grants from the joint State and Commonwealth funded Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.
The Rossi family is making and using big piles of compost on their Aloomba sugarcane farm to reduce their need for inorganic nitrogen fertiliser and the risk of it leaving the farm and affecting the Great Barrier Reef. The compost is also improving the condition of their soil, the way nature intended. Funding from the Australian Government's Reef Trust IV programme was used to purchase machinery to set up the system.
Take a ride with Chris Russo to see how technology is reducing fertiliser use on his Isis district cane farm. He's using a high clearance tractor to put a liquid nutrient mix underground in a targeted approach that combines GPS and information from a drone. Chris is the winner of the 2017 Reef Awards Nutrient Management category for his innovative approach.
After 80 years of cane growing at Aloomba in far north Queensland, the Rossi family sees environmental management as core business. On the banks of the Mulgrave River, Landcare tree planting projects mean natural ecosystems flourish alongside productive sugarcane fields ensuring good water quality for the Great Barrier Reef downstream.
Ray and Rosemary Vicarioli explain how they slow and filter water on their sugarcane farm in Queensland's Wet Tropics, playing their part to protect the Great Barrier Reef. Along with rehabilitating an eroding gully, they've planted trees to stabilise a river bank and sealed their commitment to farming sustainably with Smartcane BMP accreditation.
Burdekin grower Willie Lucas has built a low cost automated irrigation system for his farm meaning no more midnight valve changes. Using sensors and a telemetry system that switches pumps on and off and opens and closes valves, he's also using water and electricity more efficiently and avoiding the risk of runoff leaving his paddocks.
Take a walk with Drew Watson on his Mossman sugarcane farm to see how he works to protect the Great Barrier Reef while growing a healthy crop. A nutrient management plan, put together with the help of Smartcane BMP facilitator Rebecca Stone, is a key part of his strategy.
Take a look around the sugarcane farm Gerry Deguara works with his sons at Eton in the Mackay district. Controlled traffic (GPS), legume fallow cropping and green trash blanketing are boosting soil health and productivity while proving that economic drivers and environmental drivers do line up.
CANEGROWERS Chairman Paul Schembri is leading by example. The Mackay farms he works with his brother Joe have been accredited under the industry best management practice program Smartcane BMP. He's now out to boost the number of growers moving through the program to help spread the message to the community and key sugar markets about the work farmers are doing to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
Aaron Linton is comparing the performance of a new drip irrigation system, installed with assistance from the Australian Government Reef Programme, against traditional furrow irrigation on his Home Hill farm.
With a lifetime of cane farming experience, Paul Gregory has a clear understanding of the social contract binding farmers as custodians of the land. An advocate of Smartcane BMP, Paul shows how he manages water flow to keep nutrients and soil on his Cairns region farm, protecting the marine environment.
An ultrasonic water flow meter made available through the Rural Water Use Efficiency - Irrigation Futures program has been deployed in the Isis district. With the information it provides and a new overhead centre pivot system Bevan Manderson has created an efficient irrigation system on his steeply contoured farm.
In an industry where keeping up with costly new technology helps to achieve best management practice, a group of Innisfail growers has joined forces to meet the challenge head-on. By pooling their resources and putting in joint applications for Australian Government Reef Programme assistance, they've been able to access more sophisticated equipment and improve their yields.
A $15 million project to improve water use efficiency and boost productivity is taking shape in the Maryborough district. CANEGROWERS director Allen Birt talks about how the rollout of 40 new centre pivot irrigators by MSF Sugar is anticipated to boost productivity and secure a reliable ongoing source of sugarcane over the coming seasons by enabling growers to deliver smaller quantities of water to top up the profile throughout the season.