Sugarcane growers in the Mackay and Plane Creek areas of Central Queensland will have the opportunity to gain a clearer understanding of the complex relationship between farming systems and water quality, through a new project that is about to commence.

This new project is led by Sugar Research Australia (SRA) and is an addition to SRA’s work on the “Cane to Creek” series of projects, bringing this work to multiple sub-catchments in the Central Region.

Regional Coordinator for the Central Region, Phil Ross, said that the Mackay-Whitsunday Cane to Creek project would work closely with productivity services organisations, Farmacist, and growers on adaptive learning through demonstration sites.

“Through Cane to Creek in several other regions, SRA has worked hand-in-glove with growers to look at locally-specific issues that are relevant to them,” Mr Ross said.

“Growers are continually changing and improving practices to improve productivity, profitability, and sustainability. The industry also operates in a very complex system, which means we are always looking for new and practical information to help implement new practice.

“Through this project, we will be working with growers to better understand these various factors in their own local conditions.

“This will lead to increased adoption of improved practices that meet the goals of improving productivity, profitability and sustainability, including nutrient and pesticide management strategies that contribute to achieving the dissolved inorganic nitrogen and pesticide load reduction targets for the region.”

Mr Ross said that along with the work already underway in other regions, this project will provide a platform for growers, researchers and advisors to agree on and test potential solutions to better match nitrogen and herbicide application to their specific requirements.

The Mackay-Whitsunday Cane to Creek project is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF), with support from SRA.

It will run over the next three years and will leverage decision support tools such as the SRA SIX EASY STEPS Toolbox and the forthcoming DAF Queensland Pesticide Selection Tool. In-field surveys of liquid imidacloprid applicators and sampling for imidacloprid in runoff water will also contribute to our understanding of this key chemical control for cane grubs.

“We will be working with growers on crop nutrition, pesticide stewardship and water quality science, as well as breaking down the barriers to bring science and industry to the same table.”

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