It seems that year on year, the state’s and district’s canefarmers continue to face extraordinary obstacles to reasonably operate their cane farming enterprises.
Within the past year these include government obstructionism and excessive charges for services (often poorly delivered) and fees that are seemingly increased to cover shortfalls in budgetary management.
At present the district is enduring yet another series of mill performance problems, growers have felt considerable stress as the weather threatened to yet again shorten the cruch.
At the week ending 11 December 2011, the Burdekin has crushed 9,308,554 97 tonnes, at a weekly CCS of 12.28 and a seasonal CCS of 13.64. The estimate standing 9.55mt should soon be achieved, if the weather holds.
After representations and discussion with Sucrogen , agreement was reached for trucks from Tully region to be used for the remainder of the season to transport cane between mills to achieve a greater level of harvest equity for growers. The trucks have transported to Pioneer mill from Inkerman and have the capacity to shift up to 1,000 tonnes per day.
Discussions with Sucrogen on these and other issues confronting growers, contractors and the district generally are ongoing and will continue to be represented diligently. Issues that we all recognise, have and are, causing significant difficulty for all industry participants, in particular, the farming sector, (who cannot pass any additional costs on), as well as harvest contractors and local businesses.
The decision by Sucrogen to look at ccs relativity and compensation, with regard to standover cane, has been a point of contention, as well as purity issues with standover cane, early and late season cane and it is important that a more reasonable outlook is achieved for growers, in this regard. Other issues of concern are also under review, including ongoing performance problems with milling and longer than ‘BSES recommended season length’, are further issues which must also be resolved in order to prevent this scenario happening repeatedly. These issues continue to be under discussion.
The Australian Cane Farmers Association fielded an excellent and committed team of four candidates at the recent Queensland Sugar Limited (QSL), grower representative elections for the Burdekin. Max Menzel was successful from a field of nine nominees and will represent the interests of Burdekin growers for the next three years in that capacity.
Max has requested that his thanks be expressed for the grower support he has received to represent the Burdekin district.
Sucrogen has issued notice to all Burdekin growers outlining the results of the recent QSL pooling and pricing review and the changes affecting growers from 2012 onwards. Recommendations adopted will include: ‘changes to the QSL annual declaration date and modifications to certain pools’.
As the changes will affect all growers, Sucrogen will conduct meetings throughout the districts to enable growers to understand the implications of the changes for them. Meetings will be held early in 2012 at times to be advised.
On 5th October, I met with Julian Connellan regarding the nitrogen application rate trials being conducted locally.
“Since the introduction of the Reef Protection Act in October 2009, growers and other industry stakeholders have raised concerns about the regulated method for determining N application rates to sugarcane. In particular, concerns have been expressed about its potential to negatively impact profitability and/or supply security of sugarcane in the Burdekin district. As a result, BSES Limited has been contracted by the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) to undertake a series of trials over the next 2.5 years across the Burdekin district. These trials will assess the adequacy of the regulated method for determining nitrogen application rates on various soil types.
The trials are being overseen by a technical management group (BSES, DERM, Sucrogen and Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI)) and an industry reference group.
To date replicated nitrogen strip trials have been established on ten, carefully selected, sugarcane plant blocks on commercial properties in the BRIA and Delta areas. In 2012, three additional sites will be established, one in the BRIA and two in the Kalamia mill area.
Sites have been mapped using electrical resistivity measurements (Veris 3100) and the soils analysed for their nutrient status to a depth of 1 metre in 20 cm increments. Each trial contains three randomised replicates of three or four N rates (dependant on block size). The treatments include:
Treatment 1: The regulated N application rate for the particular soil type
Treatment 2: A lower N application rate than treatment 1
Treatment 3: An N application rate comparable to that traditionally used by the grower; and
Treatment 4: A higher N rate than treatment 3.
The following will be monitored throughout the duration of the project:
- General plant growth and pest pressure.
- Plant nutrient status via leaf analyses.
- Sugarcane biomass accumulation.
- Irrigation water quality.
- Soil moisture status (at selected sites).
- Soil nitrate values to depth.
- N losses via denitrification (at selected sites).
- Sugarcane yield, commercial cane sugar (CCS) content and calculated sugar yield.”
A highlight of last month was the Hand Cane Cutting Championships which were held in Home Hill for the first time on 23rd October. The day proved to be a resounding success and follows on the highly successful events held for many years by Paul and Shirley Donnelly from Dalbeg. The Australian Cane Farmers Association was happy to provide sponsorship for the 55 years and over event and congratulate the winners and all competitors, in what is a spectacular event and a testimony to the courage and determination of our forbears in the sugar industry. Coordinator for the day, Tonia Rossato provided results and times for the events as follows:
35 – 55 year heat
1st Tony Felesina 16:35
2nd Paul Felesina 16:57
Under 35 heat
1st Mark Vass 21:24
2nd Michael Woods 22:40
3rd Patrick Putman 24:50
55 years and over
1st Paul Donnelly 21:10
2nd Alex Bojack 27:09
3rd Laurence Zumaran 26:39
The results for the open final are as follows:
1st Paul Donnelly 16:38:10
2nd Tony Felesina 19:26:34
3rd Michael Woods 23:08:08
Cut Top & Load Relay winners were:
Paul Felesina, Tony Felesina, Paul Donnelly and Michael Woods.
In addition to fortnightly representative meetings with Sucrogen, I met with Annette Sugden (CEO) and Ian Causley (Board Chairman) of the Sugar Research and Development Corporation in Ayr and assisted with grower appointments locally on 2nd and 3rd November.
I wish industry participants a safe and successful conclusion to the 2011 season, with the continuing co-operation of all involved and a blessed and happy Christmas and New Year with your loved ones.