Canegrowers walk the walk
FOURTEEN canegrowers from across Queensland and New South Wales have been acknowledged for their cane-growing excellence in the inaugural Australian Sugarcane Grower of the Year Awards.
“Entries from sugarcane growing farms from Mossman in far north Queensland to Grafton in New South Wales, have put sugarcane growers up there as among the most innovative in the country,” says Canegrowers CEO Steve Greenwood.
He said the awards had proved helpful in unearthing the work being done by cane growers to boost farm production, while looking after the long-term sustainability of the land and environs.
“The entries are evidence that good farm practice can achieve the twin goals of profitability and sustainability. But one size does not fit all—it needs to be localised and it needs to be strategic.”
Regional winners included local growers Mr Ashley Petersen of Petersen Farms P/L (Maryborough/Hervey Bay), Mr John Kingston (Isis) and Mr Richard Zunker of Redtrail P/L (Bundaberg) who each won $2000 worth of fertiliser from one of the award's major sponsors, Ravensdown Fertiliser Australia.
Canegrowers say these awards were a first for the sugarcane industry, and very different from the locally run productivity awards.
“They were 50% weighted for implementation of a selection of best management practices on farm and 50% weighted for productivity, so as to demonstrate that smart farming is about choosing the best options—practices and technology—for a farm while keeping a firm eye on profitability,” said Mr Greenwood.
He said the judges looked at whole farm systems, and local knowledge and input was an important component of the judging process. The judging panel included a senior agronomist from research body BSES Limited, a regional sales agronomist from major sponsor Ravensdown Fertiliser Australia, two regional banking and finance specialists from Suncorp who sponsored the $10,000 prize for the overall Australian winner, and the environment manager from Canegrowers.
The three growers recognised in this inaugural award have all adopted many practices in common such as controlled traffic, legume rotation with cane, reduced cultivation and pesticide use and efficient irrigation. However, all their farming operations are distinctly different and even their adoption of these practices have been tailored to their individual farm needs.