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

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.”

AquaTill Demonstration

The Bundaberg AquaTill, how Bundaberg gets through cane trash!

The AquaTill demonstration implement is now ready for action and its ability to slice through cane trash has been proven.

In the 2020 harvest season the Landcare and SRA funded project will focus on proof of concept to:

1. Placement of product at the required depth. (Liquid insecticides to control cane grubs are required to be placed at 100mm below the soil surface and the application slot to be sealed).
2. Planting and growing a viable legume crop into cane trash with ZERO tillage.

If proven, the AquaTill will demonstrate to industry that there is technology available that has the potential to reduce input costs and maximise profitability, increase soil biology, reduce loss of fine sediment and reduce loss of pesticides to the environment and to effectively place pesticides.

SRA will keep you posted on its progress!

For more information please contact:James Ogden-Brown: SRA Southern Region Coordinator

Collaborative partnership to help industry control greyback cane grubs

Sugarcane growers have a new tool in their toolbox to manage one of the industry’s primary crop pests, Greyback Canegrub.

The new publication, the Greyback Canegrub Management manual, provides comprehensive information on managing this significant pest, which affects all sugarcane growing regions between Plane Creek in Central Queensland to Mossman in Far North Queensland.

The work occurred as part of a collaboration between Sugar Research Australia (SRA), the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, CANEGROWERS, the Australia Cane Farmers Association, Bayer Crop Science and Nufarm Limited. It is funded by the Queensland Reef Water Quality Program through the Enhanced Extension Coordination project.

SRA Regional Coordinator for the Central Region, Phil Ross, said that the manual provided practical and current information for growers, which will assist the industry in managing a key economic pest and also in stewardship of the insecticide chemical, imidacloprid.

“Imidacloprid represents the sugar industry’s best canegrub management tool and proper stewardship of this chemical is vital for the ongoing viability of cane farming in the 50 percent of soils where canegrub damage is common,” Mr Ross said.

“The manual and the broader project have looked at the best practice use of imidacloprid to ensure the industry’s ongoing access to imidacloprid as a control for cane grubs. SRA has collaborated on the ground with productivity services companies to understand the current on-ground practices and to develop strategies to help the industry to continue to improve grub management.

“For example, the project considered key aspects of grub control such as the determination of when to use the chemical, correct placement, and using the chemical only for grub control.”

The manual has been distributed to all growers between Plane Creek and Mossman with the Spring edition of CaneConnection magazine. It is also available online via the SRA website ( or additional copies can be sourced by contacting Phil Ross on or 0477 318 897.

“Through this project we’ve identified practical opportunities to work with the industry to continue to improve efficiency and sustainability. This will lead to economic outcomes through improved input efficiency and effective grub control, and sustainability outcomes through improving water quality.”

Webinar: Engineering Sugarcane biomass for production of fuels and other bioproducts

Topic and Speaker: Join Katrina Hodgson-Kratky, PhD Candidate, Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, The University of Queensland presenting on her current research.

Meeting future demands for renewable fuels and other bioproducts is dependent on the use of biomass feedstocks from highly productive crops such as sugarcane. However, the rigid and highly cross-linked cell wall impedes the efficient breakdown of biomass into fermentable sugars. Ms Hodgson-Kratky’s PhD project is aimed at identifying the major biomass components affecting cell wall recalcitrance that can be genetically altered to develop new sugarcane varieties suitable for biomass production. Using a transcriptome analysis, they also identified genes underlying one of these key components.

Grab a coffee and join us from your home or office via computer or ipad. Click here to join

Recording will be available on the SRA website after each event.

If you have any questions please email Brad Pfeffer, Sugar Research Australia, E