Tully Cane Growers Committed to Continuous Change

This article was originally published in the Cassowary Coast Independent on 25 May 2017


A lot has changed in sugarcane farming since it was brought to Australian shores in 1788, however, one thing that hasn’t changed is the cane industry’s commitment to innovation.

Recognised as one of the world’s most effective and innovative sugar industries, the Australian sugarcane industry is renowned for its technological improvements and sustainable cane growing practices.

Recent years are no exception, with the introduction of a range of new advances in research and technology that continue to ensure that sustainability is just as important as productivity and efficiency.

Tully CANEGROWERS recently launched Project Cane Changer in Tully, an initiative designed to better understand the challenges faced by growers and recognise them for their on-going commitment to improving practices on their farms and the protection of the Great Barrier Reef.

The project is about setting the record straight, showcasing the innovative history of growers and looking towards the future.

Growers who wish to be involved in the project sign a ‘Cane Changer Commitment.’ The commitment asks growers to detail the modifications they have already made to their farming practices over the years, and their commitment to best management practices in the future.

More than 20 growers in Tully have already signed up to Project Cane Changer, detailing the changes they have made over the years, demonstrating many positive farming practices that have been adopted and implemented over the years.

Growers are asked to sign a Cane Changer Commitment just like the one shown here.

Growers are asked to sign a Cane Changer Commitment just like the one shown here.

The record shows that Tully growers are routinely adopting new practices such as nutrient management plans, sub surface fertiliser application, and fallow cropping.

These examples of what Tully growers are doing is supported by other findings that show that over 90% of growers in the Wet Tropics cut their cane green and spread the trash cuttings over the paddock once harvested, moving away from burning that once characterised the industry. Trash blanketing protects the soil, prevents erosion and conserves moisture which in turn contributes to a reduction in nitrogen use.

The changing practices seen in Tully support other findings to emerge from the industry including the benefits of minimal tillage systems, which minimise the amount of times growers disturb the soil, and improving riparian zones.

These practices are among the most common modification reported by growers, with one dedicated Tully grower planting over 2500 trees on his property to improve the quality of his water run-off into the catchments that flow into the GBR.

This commitment to best management practice is set to continue as the cane industry looks towards the future. The CANEGROWERS organisation is committed to championing change, as are many of its members, through participating in the Cane Changer project.

To find out more about Cane Changer and how you can help set the record straight, speak to your local CANEGROWERS office or visit www.canechanger.com