On Monday 26 October, ten Burdekin sugarcane growers recently headed to the Wet Tropics on a three-day bus tour to observe how their northern neighbours are reducing nutrient and pesticide run-off into the Great Barrier Reef catchments.
The NQ Dry Tropics Sugarcane Innovation Programme is supporting farmers to identify new practices that will reduce nutrients and pesticides leaving Burdekin sugarcane farms and entering the Great Barrier Reef. Anthony Curro, NQ Dry Tropics’ Sugarcane Innovation Programme Project Officer, said that the tour, part of the Coca Cola Foundation-funded Project Catalyst, had become an annual event for sugarcane growers from the Burdekin, Wet Tropics and Mackay-Whitsundays regions. This year’s tour visited eight sugarcane farms around Ingham and Tully.
“It’s a great opportunity for like-minded individuals to share their knowledge and passion for finding improvements that help create a sustainable future for the sugarcane industry,” he said.
“Events like this are great to get together with fellow growers and look at what’s being done outside the region,” said Burdekin Catalyst trial host Joe Tama, from Iyah.
“These trips offer a great opportunity to talk to growers with initiative and drive to explore new ideas,” said Denis Pozzebon, an innovative Burdekin grower from Mount Kelly who has been involved in Project Catalyst since 2010.
“I was really interested in learning more about bio-fertiliser production and how this can be used to reduce my synthetic fertiliser inputs,” said Burdekin Catalyst grower, Willy Lucas, from Osbourne.
Presenters included Kym Kruse from RegenAg, Fiona George and Michael Nash from Terrain NRM, Daniel Skocaj and Glen Park from Sugar Research Australia, and Professor Roger Stone and Yvette Everingham from James Cook University.
Some of the techniques showcased during the farm visits included yield mapping, satellite imaging, soil testing, electromagnetic mapping and planting rice, corn and legumes in an extended fallow rotation of sugarcane to improve soil health.