This October, Catchment Solutions partnered with Reef Catchments, NQ Dry Tropics and Terrain Wet Tropics to bring sugarcane farmers from Queensland’s major production regions together for a two-day innovation field trip to the Burdekin.
The growers and partner organisations involved viewed the early stages of Game Changer and Project Catalyst innovation trials, as well as some long-term trials, including:
- Joe Tama’s farm: Drip irrigation—low-cost alternative samples.
- Willy Lucas’ Farm: Irrigation telemetry and automation systems. Variable-rate fertiliser application combining soil test results, yield maps and EM mapping.
- Jurgens’ Farm: Purpose-built broadcast mill mud spreader. Drip Irrigation and sub-surface Dunder applicator. Solid-state overhead irrigation system.
- Ayr Farming: Enhanced efficiency fertilisers with water quality monitoring.
- Chris Hesp’s Farm: Banded vs broadcast mill mud. Split nitrogen application in green trash system under lateral-move overhead irrigation.
- David Cox’s Farm: Precision farming system with 2 metre row spacings.
During the field trip dinner, growers heard from Burdekin sugarcane grower and Nuffield Scholar Brian Granshaw who spoke on the importance of learning from around the world, supporting research and supporting growers to learn and improve their practices.
The Game Changer and Project Catalyst sugar innovation programs bring together around 140 sugarcane farmers from Australia’s most productive sugar growing regions. The Game Changer program is a part of the Australia Government’s Reef Program and provides supported, on-farm demonstration of practices that have been proven to have the potential to cut loads of nutrients and herbicides reaching the vulnerable Great Barrier Reef. Growers are supported to implement these practices on a farm block, gaining a greater understanding of how the practices work in a practical sense, and to obtain the best possible economic outcomes.
The Coca-Cola Foundation, The Australian Government, Bayer and Syngenta support Project Catalyst. This is a true innovation program working with growers to develop new farm management practices that have positive water quality and economic outcomes.
Catchment Solutions and Reef Catchments will work to coordinate field days to look at local trials and demonstrations in the new year.