Drainage management

Drainage management

While moisture stress can be a major factor limiting sugarcane production in many districts, the opposite situation, waterlogging - usually caused by poor drainage - can also have a significant impact on production in most districts.

Drainage problems commonly occur where natural drainage is inadequate for prevention of waterlogging, where clearing or natural vegetation or irrigation has raised water tables, or where farming operations have interfered with natural drainage pathways. Improvements of natural drainage to promote better disposal of both surface run off water and sub-surface drainage water is essential to ensure successful sugar production.

Wet Tropics grower Lenny Parisi took out the 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. A sediment pond was built to filter sediment and feed the lagoons. The revegetation project has seen thousands of trees planted along waterways on his land and as part of the constructed wetland, helping to slow the water flow during downpours and increasing water penetration into the soil. Read more.


Cassowary Valley cane farmer Richard Padovan recently experienced severe flood damage and erosion on his farm where a lot of productive top soil was washed away. He is now part of a landscape remediation project funded by the Queensland Government’s Natural Resources Investment Program. The project involves 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.


Burdekin farmer Mark Hatch is one of the participants in the de-watering bores pilot project. This pilot project in the Burdekin has shown promising signs that conjunctive use de-watering bores could become an effective solution to combat rising groundwater levels in the district. In an area where plant cane can return 150 tonnes to the hectare, it makes sense for farmers to manage the health of the aquifer and in the process ensure their irrigation future. Watch more.



Ray Vicarioli’s cane farm in the foothills of magnificent Mount Bartle Frere brings unique drainage and soil hydrology challenges. On the Vicarioli’s 116 hectare property, a range of techniques have been employed to deal with the one raw material for which there is often a drastic oversupply - water. Sophisticated sub-surface drainage systems have been constructed to minimise nutrient volatilisation, maximise storage of nutrient in soils and largely eliminate chemical run off into drains. Read more.