Queensland’s sugarcane growers are celebrating some solid achievement for the industry’s Smartcane BMP program.
122 farming businesses have been independently accredited as operating at or above industry best practice in the three core areas of Drainage and Irrigation Management, Soil Health and Nutrient Management and Weed, Pest and Disease Management.
CANEGROWERS CEO Dan Galligan congratulated the growers for proving their commitment to the health of the Great Barrier Reef and the economic future of the $2 billion a year export industry.
“The two things go hand-in-hand,” Mr Galligan said. “80% of our sugar is sold overseas and by having a robust accreditation program we are meeting our customer’s increasing demands for a sustainable product.
“Along with the 120 accredited growers, we have more than 61% of the cane growing area in Queensland benchmarked against the Smartcane BMP standards and working towards accreditation.
“It can take a farm several seasons to work through the record-keeping requirements making these early results a real cause for celebration.”
Cairns Region grower Stephen Calcagno is one of the accredited growers.
“We’ve got to prove to everyone that we’re doing the right thing by the Reef,” he said. “Smartcane BMP is a great opportunity to turn the spotlight on and look into your business and prove that we are the leading sugar growers in the world with our farming practices.”
Situated in one of the wettest places in Queensland, between Bellenden Ker and Babinda, Stephen’s 460 hectares of farmland is a balancing act between preventing paddocks becoming waterlogged and allowing water to get away without taking nutrients, pesticides or sediment with it.
Stephen maintains lush creek-side vegetation to slow and filter the huge volumes of water that can move through his land.
“We try and keep the farm drainage slow moving and keep headlands all grassed to filter out sediment and nutrients and pesticides before they get to the waterways,” he said.
He keeps records of all of his farming activities and uses GPS to keep his machinery on established tracks in the paddocks to avoid damaging or compacting the crop zone. All fertilizer is buried into the plant roots.
“If you can fix up the soil health then you’ll have the optimum take-up of nutrients, a heathy root system and healthy plant that’ll utilise the nutrients that you’ve put in and will minimise any loss running off,” he said.
Mr Galligan acknowledged the Queensland Government’s funding for this program as an industry-driven, industry-owned mechanism to deliver real water quality benefits to the Reef.
For more information on Smartcane BMP visit www.smartcane.com.au