Record keeping the centre of attention

CANEGROWERS Herbert River Manager Peter Sheedy (left) with Smartcane BMP Herbert Facilitator Maria Battoraro and Cane Changer Project Leader, John Pickering.

CANEGROWERS Herbert River Manager Peter Sheedy (left) with Smartcane BMP Herbert Facilitator Maria Battoraro and Cane Changer Project Leader, John Pickering.

This article was originally published in the Herbert River Express on 12 September 2018.

Cane growers gathered recently at the CANEGROWERS Herbert River office to attend the second session in a series of workshops designed to foster an improved understanding of Smartcane BMP record-keeping requirements and, in particular, fertiliser records and the importance of soil testing.

Smartcane BMP is the industry led best practice program for sugarcane growing. The program allows growers to demonstrate their use of best practices that drive productivity while protecting the environment.

Herbert River Smartcane BMP facilitator Maria Battoraro, who hosted the workshops, was pleased with the response.

“We know it is an extremely busy time of year, but growers were keen to come along,” she said. “Record keeping is a valuable tool - not only does it provide evidence that you are doing the right thing by the environment on your farm, but it is great information for your business.

“Keeping accurate records can help you know more about your business and make informed decisions about your productivity and profitability.”

To help streamline the process for growers and their families, Ms Battoraro has designed templates and record-keeping packs.

“When growers first sign up and register for Smartcane BMP we put together a personalised folder that contains their farm maps, blank templates and completed examples so they can get started with keeping records as easily as possible,” she said.

Herbert River grower and CANEGROWERS director Chris Bosworth attended the workshop. He is already accredited in the Smartcane BMP program and says that a farm map and the templates simplified his record-keeping process.

Working through an example fertiliser record.

Working through an example fertiliser record.

“It’s dead-easy now, I keep my folder in my tractor and make a quick note as I go with what block I fertilised and when,” he said. “Then, I have plenty of time in the wet season to go through it all.”

Newly-appointed Herbert River Smartcane BMP Officer, Raymond Cervellin was also on hand to demonstrate where best to take soil samples.

“It is important to take the soil tests at the right time and in the right place,” he said. “Otherwise you run the risk of not getting the best recommendations for your fertiliser application.”

Growers also heard from Project Cane Changer, a CANEGROWERS initiative, at the session. The project is working with growers to help improve the recognition of the industry’s innovative history and pave the way for an even more sustainable future.

“Cane Changer is helping set the record straight about the sugarcane industry and it is through programs like Smartcane BMP that we are able to do that,” Project Manager Toneya McIntosh said.

“In the Herbert alone, 80 per cent of cane area is already benchmarked against the best management practices in Smartcane BMP, impressively, 21 per cent of the cane area is accredited in the program.

“This demonstrates a clear commitment from Herbert growers to the changes they have been making on their farms to improve productivity, profitability and protect the environment.”

“We have another five audits lined up for accreditation very soon,” Ms Battoraro said. “We have plans to host more of these workshops to ensure growers have the right resources and support to move through their Smartcane BMP journey.”

If you would like to find out more about Smartcane BMP and how to get involved, contact your local CANEGROWERS office.

Maria Battoraro and Raymond Cervellin.

Maria Battoraro and Raymond Cervellin.