Webinar – Adoption of practices to mitigate harvest losses

Final results and maximising sugarcane recovery through development of harvesting decision support tool.

In this webinar Phil Patane (SRA) presented the final outcomes of the project ‘Adoption of practices to mitigate harvest losses’ and and Brendon Nothard (DAF) explained the next stage of the project titled ‘Maximising sugarcane recovery: development of harvesting decision support tool’.

This very important next stage aims to deliver a grower-friendly decision-support tool that applies the latest research findings, incorporates economic evidence, and encourages adoption of HBP.

Phil Patane is the Agricultural machinery specialist for Sugar Research Australia. Phil graduated with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science degree at the University of Queensland and has been specialising in minimising harvesting losses since 2013.

Brendon Northard is a Senior Agricultural Economist for DAF in Mackay. His involvement in the Australian Sugar Industry includes investigations into the economic impact of cane harvesting practices and new farming systems.

This project was funded by SRA and the Australian Government Department of Agriculture through the Rural R&D for Profit Program. SRA also acknowledges the funding contribution from the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries towards this research activity.


Regenerative Cane Farming Forum bus tour recap

In February 2021, Sugar Research Australia and Burdekin Productivity Services took a group of growers up to the Regenerative Cane Farming Forum in Cairns. The clip provides a short recap of the trip.

Thanks to Burdekin Productivity Services and Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for their support of this event.

iMapPESTS program to help protect sugar cane industry

Moth borers remain one of the highest priority pests for Australian sugar cane production.

For this reason, Australian researchers have taken a proactive approach to clarifying control measures and gathering information about the pest.

While not established in Australia, there are 36 major moth pest species worldwide with seven regarded as high risk to Australia.

The nation’s geographic proximity to Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and South East Asia, where the moths live, mean Australia remains a potential migration point.

Speaking on the first day of the CaseIH Step Up conference in Bundaberg on Tuesday, Sugar Research Australia (SRA) molecular plant pathologist, Dr Nicole Thompson, said significant work had been done to forearm against the threat.

Some of this work included updating species and specimen information in databases and collections; preparing new dossiers based on this research; developing new diagnostic protocols; and updating the geographic distribution of the moth borers.

The pest was just one major concern mentioned by Dr Thompson who also spoke on iMapPESTS, a nationwide research and development collaborative initiative between Australia’s major plant industries with a goal of developing a way to rapidly monitor and report the presence of airborne pests and diseases for multiple agricultural sectors, including viticulture, grains, cotton, sugar, horticulture and forestry.

The project is about advanced surveillance technologies such as automated trapping and sampling for detecting and monitoring a wide range of endemic and exotic pests.

The project will also produce several flexible surveillance hubs with trapping technologies that can be mobilised in response to industry needs such as in response to incursions.TECH: The Sentinel is a custom-designed surveillance trailer unit designed to offer optimal sampling of airborne fungal spores and insects.

 TECH: The Sentinel is a custom-designed surveillance trailer unit designed to offer optimal sampling of airborne fungal spores and insects.

One of the pieces of equipment is the Sentinel.

The Sentinel is a custom-designed surveillance trailer unit designed to offer optimal sampling of airborne fungal spores and insects.

The Sentinel has four different air samplers: two spore samplers which are high-volume, designed to collect airborne spores; a 2m insect suction trap to monitor localised insect dynamics; and 6m insect suction trap, for monitoring of long-distance migratory insect flights.

Each air sampler is automated and collects samples into small vials for fungal spores or larger vials or larger pots for insects.

These are barcoded and read by a scanner onboard and in the labs for complete traceability.

Dr Thompson said sugarcane had many established pests and diseases such as mosaic, Fiji leaf gall, leaf scald, smut, RSD and others.

It’s hoped the iMapPESTS project will assist multiple plant industries in managing these threats.

Small Milling Research Program open for applications through SRA

The milling sector of the Australian sugarcane industry is now invited to submit applications to the Small Milling Research Program (SMRP) investment scheme.

The SMRP is a targeted initiative developed by SRA to work with sugarcane millers and researchers to deliver productivity, profitability, and sustainability outcomes.

This will be the fourth year of the investment scheme, and SRA is now calling for applications that will allow investment in small projects to develop a product, service, or process that will solve targeted problems in sugar mills and deliver tangible outputs with almost immediate outcomes.

Applications are open from 01 October 2020 until 31 January 2021, with applicants able to apply for up to $75,000 for their project. All successful projects are expected to be completed within 12 months of their starting date.

SRA Research Funding Unit General manager, Dr Harjeet Khanna said the scheme aligned with the needs of SRA’s milling investors. She said that during the industry consultation phase of the Milling R&D program, it was noted that SMRP scheme was strongly supported by the industry as it provided the vehicle for responding to “here and now” problems via applied or tactical research.

“The scheme is an opportunity to invest in lower-cost, short-term, industry-identified, and preferably industry-led research. Each project must have an Australian milling stakeholder as one of the project participants, which ensures that the project is linked to practical Outcomes,” she said.

The investment is included in our current total investment in our Key Focus Area (KFA) of Milling Efficiency and Technology.

Dr Khanna said the SMRP scheme would strengthen collaborations between industry and research as well as increase research skills and capability in sugar mills.

“We encourage researchers to collaborate with industry to put forward their best ideas for new projects.”

For more information, visit the SRA website at https://sugarresearch.com.au/research-investment/small-milling-research-project-initiative/.

SRA to build industry knowledge on interactions between on-farm practice and water quality in the Central Region

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.”