An on-farm stormwater quality trial has shown solid results
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.”
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
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.