New funding is being provided through an Innovation Grants program to boost grower-led innovations in the sugar industry that have the potential to help the industry meet water quality targets.
Grants of up to $100,000 will be provided to growers undertaking projects to develop and trial new ideas.
The Wet Tropics Sugar Industry Partnership (WTSIP) is delivering the program on behalf of the Australian Government through the Reef Trust III initiative to improve water quality to the Great Barrier Reef.
Chair Joe Marano said it was widely acknowledged that Best Management Practice alone was not enough to meet the Wet Tropics water quality targets so it was important to support the cane industry’s innovators.
“This is a great opportunity for sugar cane growers to develop, test and validate new ideas that have the potential to make a significant contribution towards reducing nutrients moving off-farm,” he said.
“Sugar cane growers are constantly solving problems on their land with creative ideas so there’s a good chance that someone out there has a big idea that could make a significant shift that helps us meet those water quality targets.
“We hope that these grants will boostgrower-led innovation and offset the risk of innovation to those forward thinking growers who are testing new ideas on behalf of the industry,” he said.
Suzette Argent, WTSIP’s Innovation Extension Officer, said she was looking for big new ideas that were practical and had the potential for broad scale adoption across the industry.
“We want to advance new ideas that are not yet proven as well as completely new ideas. If you’ve got a big idea on your mind that has been held back from lack of funding, now’s your chance, we want to hear about it,” she said.
“There are a lot of great innovative growers already undertaking projects exploring soil health, trialling the use of biofertilisers and using drone technology to reduce herbicide use. These grants are a great opportunity to progress more grower ideas to keep nutrients on farm and improve productivity.”
Sugar cane growers in the Wet Tropics who are interested in applying for an Innovation Grant should contact their local WTSIP Extension Officer and express their interest. The Extension Officer will review whether the idea meets the eligibility criteria and help with starting a formal application.