Agriculture

SRA to build industry knowledge on interactions between on-farm practice and water quality

SRA Adoption Officer Gavin Rodman, Fishery Falls farmer Glen Anderson, SRA Principal Researcher Belinda Billing, and Technician Chris Sterling
SRA Adoption Officer Gavin Rodman, Fishery Falls farmer Glen Anderson, SRA Principal Researcher Belinda Billing, and Technician Chris Sterling installing water quality monitoring equipment at Glen’s farm in October 2018 as part of the Cane to Creek project.

Sugarcane growers in multiple priority catchments of the Great Barrier Reef will gain a clearer understanding of the relationship between farm management and water quality through a new project to be undertaken by Sugar Research Australia (SRA).

Called Cane to Creek 2.0, the project expands on two successful water quality projects that have been running in the Wet Tropics under the direction of SRA.

These projects have looked at herbicide, pesticide and nutrient management in multiple catchments of Far North Queensland. Cane to Creek 2.0 will build on the momentum of these projects and expand their footprint across sugarcane growing regions from Mossman to the Burdekin.

Cane to Creek 2.0 is funded by a partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation with support from SRA.

SRA Executive Manager, Regional Delivery, Mr Ian McBean, said this investment would improve understanding and acceptance of the link between farming practices and water quality.

“This will lead to increased adoption of improved practices that have been shown to improve productivity, profitability and sustainability for the sugarcane industry,” Mr McBean said.

“Building on that, Cane to Creek 2.0 will provide a platform in a number of priority catchments for growers, researchers and advisors to agree on and test potential solutions to better match nitrogen and herbicide application to their specific requirements.”

As the lead agency for the Australian sugarcane industry, SRA plays a pivotal role investing in and researching activities related to the interaction between farming systems and water quality.

Mount Sophia farmer Glen Anderson is a keen participant in the existing Cane to Creek project that has been running in the Mulgrave area for the last two years.

“Farmers want to know what’s coming off their farms and whether they can improve it,” Mr Anderson said.

“Farmers learn more on their own farm and it reinforces what we’ve learnt in the workshops, seen in the training, and read in the magazines. By getting involved you can find out exactly what’s coming off your farm and by trying out different practices you can see what difference it makes to your costs, yields and water quality. This is a win for the industry and for our environmental sustainability.”

Fishery Falls grower Len Parisi is also involved in the current project and said it gave him the facts about what was happening on his farm.

“We want to save the reef as well, like everybody else, so that’s what we’re doing here. Although there has been lots of research done on this, as a grower it’s good to have real data, sit down, and have a look at it,” Mr Parisi said.

“As we get more data, we can continue to modify our practices and then we can know that we’re reducing run-off of nutrients and chemicals into the waterways. Then we can educate everybody what we are doing on farm, because we are in a pretty sensitive area.”

Source: SRA

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