Learning in the cane field
New initiative helps reduce farming losses
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
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.”
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.