Innisfail Canegrowers Set the Record Straight

This Article was Originally Published in the Cassowary Coast Independent News on July 6, 2017

Anyone who has visited the cane paddocks in Innisfail has seen just how much change and innovation is taking place. Cane growers are constantly trialling new technology, planting new varieties and committing to more sustainable farming practices.

However, over the years there has been a mismatch between what's happening in the paddocks, and the story that’s being told. This mismatch is especially true around the challenges the industry is facing regarding water quality and the sustainability of the cane industry.

Project Cane Changer, an initiative led by CANEGROWERS, is looking to set the record straight, by working with growers to better understand what is happening on their farms and documenting the measures farmers are taking to improve their farming systems

Cane growers were invited to shed meetings across Innisfail this week to document their current on-farm practices, share their data between projects and demonstrate the changes they have made on their farms.

Responding to the call, over 60 growers were involved in the sessions as part of their involvement in Project Cane Changer. They worked with CANEGROWERS Smartcane BMP facilitator, Deb Telford to capture their data and document their farming practices.

A focus of the shed meetings was to encourage growers to enhance their record keeping of farming practices and their willingness to share this information. The underlying reason for this is to be able to provide the evidence that is needed to document the routine practices that growers are undertaking towards the ongoing improvement of their farming systems.

It is this issue of record keeping that often lets the industry down in terms of being able to clearly demonstrate the changes it has made over many years. The types of questions that growers were asked to record are in-line with the normal farming practices growers in Innisfail, and elsewhere, routinely carry out. For example: things like nutrient management, pesticide application, row spacing and soil health.

From all reports, growers found it easy to do and were happy to be given the chance to document their practices.

“The majority of growers are already doing the right thing on their farms” Deb Telford said, “these shed meetings were an opportunity to capture current farming practices and help growers work toward BMP accreditation.”

This is the first of many shed meetings that Cane Changer will be holding in the coming months across Innisfail and Tully, and then other cane growing areas of the Wet Tropics. The project team would like to invite all growers across the districts to be part of the project and set the record straight.

If you would like to find out more visit www.canechanger.com or speak to your local Smartcane BMP facilitator.