Gamechanger Project

This project has been completed.

Fast tracking adoption of game changing sugarcane nutrient and pesticide management practices

The Fast tracking adoption of game changing sugarcane nutrient and pesticide management practices project was a 3 year project (2013-2016) funded through the Australian Government Reef Programme.

This project trialed Game Changer management practices in the Mackay Whitsunday, NQ Dry Tropics and Terrain NRM regions. Game Changer management practices focus on the use of precision agriculture technologies and advanced planning to provide opportunities for cane farming to be more economically and environmentally sustainable.

They will let cane farmers improve:

  • Agronomy – by matching farming practices more closely to crop needs such as fertiliser;
  • Environment – by reducing the environmental footprint of cane farming such as limiting nitrogen and chemical runoff, caring for soil and water, or burning less oil per tonne of sugar produced – saving soil, oil and labour;
  • Economics – through more efficient practices such as removing unnecessary operations, better allocation of fertiliser and herbicide, and working with soil and not against it.

These Game Changer management practices are not wholly new, but an extension of existing and accepted technologies and techniques. Generally they are at a higher level than the best management practices currently identified in regional ABCD frameworks. This project generated the evidence for these practices to be promoted to the greater industry for wide scale adoption and integration into the Reef Rescue Water Quality Improvement Grants program, where they have the potential to significantly reduce anthropomorphic runoff whilst maintaining farm productivity and profitability.

Project outcomes
  • Game Changer nutrient and herbicide practices identified, validated and fast tracked for sugar cane adoption in the Dry Tropics and Terrain NRM region through analysis of water quality improvement, productivity and economic viability;
  • Game Changer nutrient and herbicide practices promoted to growers and industry in the Burnett Mary NRM region;
  • Validated practices incorporated into regional ABCD frameworks;
  • Incorporate validated Game Changer nutrient and herbicide management practices into the Reef Rescue 2013-18 nutrient and herbicide management plans developed for each participating grower;
  • Training and workshops developed and run for industry and interested growers, promoted through both the Game Changer and Water Quality Improvement Grants programs;
  • 20 growers in the Dry Tropics NRM region implementing Game Changer management practices on their farms by 2016;
  • Identify management practices that can be adopted by industry to significantly reduce nutrient and herbicide loads to fresh water ecosystems and the Great Barrier Reef;
  • Increase the area of cane land under A class farming practices that improve the water quality draining into the Great Barrier Reef lagoon by working with a minimum of 70 and holders over three years;
  • Improve nutrient and herbicide planning in cane enterprises to increase productivity and profitability thereby improving water quality over and above the property planning provided through the Reef Rescue Water Quality Improvement Grants program;
  • Validated game changer activities are recognised across the four participating NMR regions as best management practices;
  • Fast track the adoption of Game Changer practices that will lead to a sustainable sugarcane industry and a healthier Great Barrier Reef;
  • A culture of continuous improvement, with landholders and industry always looking for the next innovative practice with a willingness to share ideas and results is fostered within the sugarcane industry