Learn­ing in the cane field

New ini­tia­tive helps re­duce farm­ing losses

Central Queensland News - - RURAL WEEKLY -

IT IS well known sug­ar­cane grow­ers and millers en­joy look­ing over the other side of the fence to see how they can im­prove things on their own turf.

Thanks to an ini­tia­tive by Sugar Re­search Aus­tralia and Wil­mar Sugar, this “look­ing over the fence” has taken a step fur­ther for a group of grow­ers and millers from the Her­bert re­gion, with the group mem­bers look­ing much fur­ther afield than their own district.

The group has just trav­elled from the Her­bert re­gion in North Queens­land to Rocky Point near the Gold Coast and Childers in the South­ern Re­gion.

The aim of the trip was to learn from millers, grow­ers and har­vest­ing con­trac­tors in these south­ern parts of the in­dus­try and dis­cover how they are adopt­ing prac­tices that are help­ing them to op­ti­mise har­vest­ing ef­fi­ciency.

Her­bert Re­gional Op­er­a­tions Man­ager for Wil­mar Sugar Adam Dou­glas said the group was re­turn­ing to the Her­bert armed with more in­for­ma­tion about the im­pact of cane loss and ex­tra­ne­ous mat­ter on a farm’s bot­tom line.

“Our ob­jec­tive was to meet and col­lab­o­rate with Rocky Point and Childers grow­ers who have changed the har­vest­ing prac­tice,” he said.

“It has been an op­por­tu­nity to learn about the po­ten­tial to in­crease prof­itabil­ity by re­duc­ing cane loss and ex­tra­ne­ous mat­ter lev­els.”

SRA Adop­tion Of­fi­cer for Har­vest­ing Phil Patane said the trip was a chance to visit dur­ing the har­vest sea­son, which put ev­ery­thing into con­text for mak­ing har­vest best prac­tice work.

“Through re­search and demon­stra­tion tri­als, we know that there is po­ten­tial to im­prove har­vest­ing ef­fi­ciency and there­fore put more rev­enue into the value chain,” he said. “From trial re­sults in 2017, it was iden­ti­fied that

❝It

has been an op­por­tu­nity to learn about the po­ten­tial to in­crease prof­itabil­ity.

— Adam Dou­glas

the in­dus­try could po­ten­tially ob­tain a 5.5 per cent in­crease in har­vested tonnes with no cane land in­crease and a $74 mil­lion in­crease in shared in­dus­try rev­enue if op­er­at­ing at har­vest­ing best prac­tice rec­om­men­da­tions.

“How­ever, we also know that op­ti­mis­ing har­vest­ing is com­plex and a range of fac­tors have to be con­sid­ered. This is why it is so valu­able for the group from the Her­bert to en­gage with their peers in the south­ern re­gion.

“We are all op­er­at­ing in one Aus­tralian in­dus­try, but also across a vast geo­graphic dis­tance.

“This was a chance for them to ask ques­tions and con­sider how their own op­er­a­tion com­pares.”

Ing­ham grower Paul Mar­belli said he had not had the chance to visit the Rocky Point and Childers re­gions be­fore, so this was unique.

“The trip has been in­ter­est­ing to see how other dis­tricts are do­ing things,” Mr Mar­belli said. “We can’t com­pare ev­ery­thing be­tween re­gions, as there are unique con­di­tions down here, but it has been in­ter­est­ing to learn how these farm­ers and con­trac­tors are deal­ing with their sit­u­a­tions.”

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

GET­TING TIPS: Her­bert grow­ers Paul Mar­belli (left) and Charles Gir­genti (cen­tre) speak with Rocky Point har­vest­ing con­trac­tor Nick Skopp about how he had ad­justed his har­vest­ing prac­tices to re­duce cane losses in the field.

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