Australia’s largest cane farmer, MSF Sugar, is leading the way on environmental responsibility and the adoption of sustainable farming practices.
The sugar farming and milling company launched its environmental charter at Maryborough today.
Visiting an MSF Sugar farm near Maryborough, Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef, Dr Steven Miles, welcomed the charter, saying it recognised the importance of improved environmental stewardship on land in the Great Barrier Reef catchments.
“This charter clearly highlights MSF Sugar as one of the leaders in the sugar industry,” Dr Miles said.
“As Minister for the environment and the Reef, I appreciate MSF’s contribution to the adoption of best practice for the sugarcane industry, especially its assistance to develop improved practices that lead to efficient use of fertilisers and less nitrogen being lost to the reef.
“The Queensland Government is committed to reducing nitrogen runoff by up to 80 per cent and reducing total suspended sediment runoff by up to 50 per cent in key Great Barrier Reef catchments by 2025.
“Last week I received the final report of the Reef Water Science Taskforce and it confirmed that a mix of tools is needed to save the Great Barrier Reef, and that agriculture will continue to be a key player.
“In addition to their charter, MSF Sugar has voluntarily taken up Smartcane Best Management Practice (BMP) for their farms and continues to support their growers near Maryborough and in north Queensland, to improve profitability and environmental outcomes.
“The company’s Tableland Farms, South Johnstone Farms and Tinana Maryborough Farms recently achieved Smartcane BMP accreditation and today I’m seeing how they use efficient farm design, rotation crops, precision farming technology and other methods to improve soil health and reduce runoff.
“Adding to their great work, in the South Johnstone area of north Queensland, MSF is also in partnership with the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and Department of Agriculture and Fisheries on a project to monitor nitrogen from farm drains in real time, increasing our understanding of how nitrogen moves off farm and helping to improve water quality.
“Furthermore, Department of Environment and Heritage Protection has worked with MSF Sugar for a number of years in pursuing their BMP and sustainability agenda. This partnership based on trust and common goals will continue to drive our successful relationship,” Dr Miles said.
MSF Sugar General Manager Agriculture Trevor Crook said the company was committed to sustainable management of its land and the land its suppliers managed.
“MSF Sugar recognises that quantities of fertiliser and pesticides from their sugar cane farms are entering reef waters and we want to be a key player in addressing this impact on our Great Barrier Reef,” Mr Crook said.
“We’re proud of our farming system that employs legume rotation crops, minimum tillage, controlled traffic and trash blanketing.
“The system developed entirely from decades of SRA research allows us to minimise fertiliser, fuel and agrochemical inputs without reducing productivity and importantly it improves soil health. We’re helping our growers to adopt a similar system.
“Around 7000ha or 75% of MSF’s cane-farming land is now Smartcane BMP- accredited, and we appreciate the initiative and leadership from Canegrowers for this program.”
Mr Crook said MSF Sugar was committed to working together with their growers, industry, government and the community to reduce dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) in waterways and improve nitrogen use efficiency (NUE).
“We want to be an industry leader in this field,” he said.
Dr Miles said the Reef Water Science Taskforce was set up to advise on the best ways to achieve water quality targets.
“Programs like Smartcane BMP, and the commitment shown from farmers like MSF are important in achieving these goals,” Dr Miles said.
The Taskforce’s final report is available on the Great Barrier Reef Living Wonder website –www.gbr.qld.gov.au.