How long is a piece of … pipe? And the shortest distance between two points is a straight line! The second one is well known, the first one is all about irrigation. Local Management of Irrigation systems would have to be one of the most under exposed issues in the State of Queensland. Even our family Doctor has a better handle on it than a few of our farmers. His question the other day when he was examining my tractor clutch knee was ” Will they just give it to the farmers or do you have to buy it? ” My reply was ” Well, that is what due diligence is all about.” We don’t know what, in plain English it costs to run our systems. Well not from anything that was heard at the Queensland Competition Authority enquiry into price paths for the water.
Apparently Sunwater figures are too complicated for us ordinary folks. I would expect that local management would be lost in the recent vast debate on R&D , but it is equally important to our region.
As well as disease, we have drought. A 60% reduction in the cane crop in a drought year was always a possibility. Efficiency and better problem solving should be what is gained from Local Management. Productivity Services and in some areas milling is run by local Boards. We are being given the chance to do the same with irrigation water delivery systems. The fact that ‘we’ have to run the thing as well as do our own work is just the price we pay. And our family Doctor knows funding issues from his side and that competition for the State Government dollar is only going to get more competitive. Trust him, he’s a doctor. Sreriously.
Roving Field Days have been the highlight of the cane farming community in the ISIS district. This year’s was run under a new flag ISIS Productivity Limited. It went well. Surprising that on the day not so many turned up. Some didn’t seem to get the message. All online communication may not be as successful as a lot of technophiles would believe. Farmers are mostly people who get out of bed and get to work. Only some of us get out of bed and fire up the PC and logon. After all, where did online variety selection end up? Who doesn’t ask someone like the Prod Board Officers what might be best for their particular circumstances?
When did a website know if your particular farm has a bit of wet country or a patch of gravelly stuff along the flat? Still, we applaud the gains made. And that brings me to the worst surprise of our Field Tour. The BESE Station for our area. A tin shed! To go from the Ashfield Road establishment to a tin shed on a side road! At least now farmers realise what they voted for. No Southern breeding station; all leased premises; and plant breeders who have to admit to losing a whole year of breeding due to the ‘necessary’ upheaval in R&D. Full credit to the Prod Board team, but I feel they sure are struggling with the learning curve of going from Field techos to extension professionals.
At least there have been some better growing conditions in the Wide Bay. It appears the dry, wet, dry has delayed the maturity of the cane crop. It certainly has delayed the soybean harvest. ISIS Mill looks like a late June start.
The Tegege Field Days has been well attended in Bundy Sugar area . I was not able to attend and I missed it.
By the time you read this I may have some idea if I am looking at a Board position on the Interim Board for Local Management for Irrigation Water Supply. Don’t necessarily need Another job, but this our big chance to make water work. Remember Whisky’s fur drinking and water’s for fight’in over.
Michael E Hetherington
Southern Region Director