A framework for innovation in agriculture
Reef Catchments Solutions staff run programs that support and promote the development of innovation in agriculture and spread the adoption of those innovations that have been found to work. This has been important in identifying and promoting practices that offer big wins for farmers and our natural environment.
A model for innovation: Project Catalyst
Project Catalyst is a pioneering partnership between Reef Catchments Solutions, NQ Dry Tropics, Terrain Natural Resource Management, the Coca-Cola Foundation, WWF and 73 Mackay Whitsunday, Burdekin and Wet Tropics sugarcane farmers that aims to improve water quality and sustainability in sugar cane farming using innovative land management practices.
The primary purpose of Project Catalyst is to reduce the environmental footprint that sugarcane production has on freshwater quality and the Great Barrier Reef using cutting edge sugarcane production techniques. Innovation is vital to achieving these goals as new practices and technologies need to be identified in order to bring about the required water quality improvements while maintaining, and improving, the economic performance of sugarcane farms.
How to foster innovation; the main ingredient is already there
True innovation comes from people not programs. Project Catalyst works by identifying sugarcane farmers who practice innovation, giving them the resources to develop their own innovations to the next level.
These innovators are supported to run trials that provide important information on the environmental and economic impacts of the innovations and importantly, their practicality.
The multiplier effect
Identifying and trialing innovation is only half of the story. Project Catalyst also works directly with growers that are known to be early adopters of new ideas and technologies. These growers are invited to field days and information sessions and receive the same agronomic support across their farm as the innovators.
Fostering innovation isn’t just about offering technical support and extra dollars. Creativity thrives on like-minded company and Project Catalyst works hard to promote conversation between the participating growers.
Communication and partnerships are an important aspect of this program. Project Catalysts’ goal is to support the industry and to promote sustainable growth that meets the needs of our natural environment and the economic needs of the farmers. The projects founding partners, Reef Catchments Ltd, WWF and the Coca-Cola Foundation have made an effort to engage with the sugarcane industry by sharing information with working groups, feeding proven innovations into existing management practice frameworks and agricultural support programs.