Research targets bigger profits for canegrowers

Sugarcane growers in the Bundaberg region could soon be increasing their productivity and profitability thanks to researchers from the University of Southern Queensland.

After a bittersweet start to the year – with farmers batting drought and heavy rain – irrigation experts are teaming up with locals to help produce bigger yields.

It’s part of the Australian Government’s Smarter Irrigation for Profit (Phase 2) project, tackling some of Australia’s water issues.

University of Southern Queensland project lead Michael Scobie is encouraging anyone in the sugar industry looking to refine their skills to get involved.

He’s working with a range of experts to develop the skills and capacity of local extension and service providers which will ultimately help farmers produce more cane.

“As crushing season nears nearing its end, now is the perfect time for people to upskill,” Mr Scobie said.

“From consultants to extension officers, individuals work one-on-one with our researchers to develop their skills.

“Whether it’s assessing pumps and irrigation systems, developing new technologies or implementing better strategies to reduce water loss, it’ll mean delivering bigger profits for sugarcane growers.

“Improving irrigation and water management on the farm, is one key approach to making sure that the industry remains vibrant and viable.”

There are about 3000 canegrowers in Queensland with the industry estimated to be worth more than $2 billion.

To find out more about theSmarter Irrigation for Profit (Phase 2), visit here.

Scholarship available for engineering students in sugar mills

ENGINEERING students have the chance to work in Australian sugar mills under a unique scholarship program.

The Australian Sugar Industry Scholarship enables Australian undergraduate engineering students in their final two years of study to gain experience during three paid placements in the sugar milling industry.

The scholarship is sponsored by Sugar Research Institute and Sugar Research Australia and run in conjunction with Australia’s sugar milling companies.

SRI learning and development manager Bruce King said successful candidates would work at three of Australia’s 24 sugar mills over an 18-month period.

Mr King said sugar mills provided an excellent learning environments for young engineers.

“Successful students gain valuable insight into cane supply, cane milling, sugar production, and steam and power generation, while helping to keep factories processing at optimum operational levels,” Mr King said.

“Students working at Wilmar Sugar’s mills have been involved with projects like locomotive reverse transmission rebuilds, diffuser performance monitoring and data analysis, water injection system reviews, and more.

Scholarship recipient Owen Engler, pictured at Wilmar's Pioneer Mill, is from the Gold Coast and is studying at QUT.

 Scholarship recipient Owen Engler, pictured at Wilmar’s Pioneer Mill, is from the Gold Coast and is studying at QUT.

“They leave the program with a well-rounded education about engineering and a deep appreciation for the industry.”

Wilmar Sugar has backed the scholarship since it began in 2016.

General manager operations Mike McLeod said it was one of the most complete programs available to engineering students.

“There’s a diverse range of work on offer inside our sugar mills and the scholarship gives students practical exposure to different systems and processes,” Mr McLeod said.

“They also work alongside some of the best and most experienced engineers in the industry.”

Mr McLeod said the sugar industry had plenty of opportunities for young engineers wanting to start a career.

“The sugar industry contributes about $4 billion in economic activity to Australia each year.

“We’re a big, innovative industry with a bright future.”

Mr King said scholarship recipients would receive financial support in addition to the onsite learning, leadership building, mentoring and networking opportunities.

“Successful applicants will be paid at industry rates during their four-week placements.

“They will also receive a $250 living away from home allowance and a $2,500 bonus for satisfactory completion of the program,” Mr King said.

Electrical, mechanical, chemical or process engineers in their penultimate year of study are encouraged to apply.

Applications for the 2021 program open on October 26.