Rain and water cost. For the first time in years we would like a bit less rainwater. All storages are full and the ground is all about a vast pudding. Maryborough area even more so. It just takes a bit of adjusting the mindset to start off a harvest with tracked harvesting gear, when only a couple of years ago everyone was wearing out tracks in bulldust. Kelvin Reibel, one of our Maryborough farmers is buying umbrellas as fast as the local stores get them in. Does he know something we don’t?
More seriously irrigation farmers are coming to realise that when dry weather reappears, paying for water (and electricity) will be a serious issue. Our region is paying for infrastructure when it is not being used as the Part A water charge. The Part B, well it’s not much more, percentage wise, but it is still more. As usual, we as customers want to be able to clearly identify if we are contributing to Sunwater’s overall take or meeting costs associated with the schemes in our local areas. Is the system run as a state-wide operation or are we locally managed? If this seems a recurring theme in Southern Region reports it is because it is one of our major costs and it is not discretionary. What about fuel you might say? Well we all would like to know about fuel company policy and margins but unfortunately we cannot open that can or barrel. Water and electricity we can fight for so we must.
ISIS Central Mill has taken a big step into sustainability by taking over former SP EXPORTS tomato growing land. This land is now available for lease and ISIS has a panel which will review contenders for leasing these areas. Some very productive parcels are available. ISIS Central will insist upon keeping sugar cane in the rotation on this land, but with the industry outlook that is an asset.
The Tegege Sugar Expo was well attended as usual. Tegege is just a bit north of Bundaberg on the Agnes Waters road and is a great venue. While not being a huge show, Bundaberg farmers have the day for a bit of a chat and swap a lot of good information without lots of snake oil salesman. Very easy going!
Regarding R,D and E, I get the impression the Maryborough area will find that Mitrpol will direct their science from home. Flight times to Thailand are comparable to flight times across the USA and many corporations there just accept commuting between west and east coasts as routine. The ISIS area model of an enlarged ISIS Productivity Services will have to commence full time operation now that long serving BSES Extension Officer Jim Sullivan’s position has been closed out. As we see the departure of the Bundaberg based BSES operations, Bundaberg Sugar’s long time partnership with farmers in the Bundaberg area will now become an even more formal arrangement over time.
Cosmas is a science ‘industry’ magazine popular in our house and the recent issue had a focus on rethinking energy. Five forms of energy were discussed, all well known to us. Nuclear, geothermal, solar and wind and two systems of storing energy. No mention of sugar cane, which by nature is the greatest energy storer we grow, but it is not mentioned. Could biomass canes solve some of the problems of long distance transmission lines by producing electricity in areas distant from the coalfields? How would the Southern region do more than we already do? Target 100 was an attempt to bring our area up to 100 tonnes of cane per hectare. Will gene technology create 200 tonnes per hectare in the Southern Region? Would this be used for fuel? Is this just science magazine dreaming?
Recently I visited Cow Candy, the never say die stockfeed manufacturers. I just slip off the northbound freeway about an hour and a half out of Brisbane and here they are. The factory looks a little brighter this time. Two years of very wet weather has made it so difficult. Why does the place seem brighter? The crew there have created a new product line. And it sells! Back out on the freeway I ask myself, what makes these people keep on battling on. Wouldn’t it be easier to take a day job? I am sure that this is the sort of place all our modern accepted industrial practices were born. I am also sure my grandchildren will be using technology developed in such a place. I take my hat off to them.
Mill start dates are as follows: Maryborough 25th June; ISIS 17th warm-up, 18th full on; Bundaberg 25th June.
Big crops and clear skies. A great way to start!