En­vi­ron­men­tal farm­ing

An on-farm stormwa­ter qual­ity trial has shown solid re­sults

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - News -

AN IN­NO­VA­TIVE stormwa­ter qual­ity man­age­ment project has saved a Mackay cane grower $35,000 over two years.

At his Walk­er­ston prop­erty, west of Mackay, Dar­rell McLen­nan first part­nered with Mackay Re­gional Coun­cil and Reef Catch­ments in 2016 to trial new best prac­tice farm­ing tech­niques.

They promised both cost sav­ings for the farmer and a re­duced im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment and the re­sults of the two-year trial were bet­ter than ex­pected.

Mr McLen­nan said his farm had never per­formed bet­ter, with less work.

“I’ve achieved sav­ings in both diesel and a re­duc­tion in the time it takes to get the soil ready for crop­ping,” he said.

“The trial in­volved in­tro­duc­ing new ma­chin­ery that has re­duced the num­ber of times the soil has to be tilled and im­ple­ment­ing a GPS-con­trolled trac­tor to guide the new ma­chin­ery in a pre­cise line.

“The re­sults have been great – in­stead of work­ing the soil six to seven times, it only takes two to three work­ings to achieve the same re­sults.

“This has also al­lowed me to re­duce my chem­i­cal and fer­tiliser us­age, which has pos­i­tive ef­fects for the en­vi­ron­ment.”

Cur­rently, Mr McLen­nan is car­ry­ing out the trial on one-third of his 600-acre farm.

But af­ter his pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence with the pro­gram, he plans to stage an ex­pan­sion to his en­tire farm over the next five years.

“I’m a fourth-gen­er­a­tion cane farmer and have worked in the in­dus­try for 37 years, and we have never been as close to best prac­tice as we are now,” Mr McLen­nan said.

“I’d en­cour­age any­one who is keen to see bet­ter profit mar­gins from their farm and re­duce the time they spend work­ing while help­ing the en­vi­ron­ment, to give it a go.”

Mackay Re­gional Coun­cil (MRC) was pleased to see such pos­i­tive re­sults from the trial af­ter match­ing the ini­tial costs of the new ma­chin­ery dollar for dollar and pro­vid­ing ac­cess to an agro­nomic spe­cial­ist.

MRC de­vel­op­ment ser­vices direc­tor Gerard Car­lyon said coun­cil hoped more farm­ers would con­sider im­ple­ment­ing sim­i­lar prac­tices.

“In­vest­ing in on-farm im­prove­ment prac­tices through this project has helped show­case that these tech­niques can re­duce the amount of chem­i­cals needed in typ­i­cal farm­ing prac­tices, which is a great re­sult for the en­vi­ron­ment,” he said.

“Less chem­i­cals, means less costs for the farmer and health­ier wa­ter­ways for our re­gion, in­clud­ing the Great Bar­rier Reef.”

❝en­cour­age

I’d any­one who is keen to see bet­ter profit mar­gins from their farm ...while help­ing the en­vi­ron­ment, to give it a go.

— Dar­rell McLen­nan

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

STORMWA­TER SUC­CESS: An on-farm project at Dar­rell McLen­nan’s cane prop­erty at Walk­er­ston, west of Mackay, has seen dra­matic re­duc­tions in nu­tri­ent and sed­i­ment run-off, cou­pled with good cost and labour sav­ings.

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