Archive for the ‘HCPSL’ Category

HCPSL on show to the Herbert Grower Representatives

Posted by Rod Neilson

On Tuesday the 25th of July, HCPSL was on show with Herbert grower representatives attending a bus trip to HCPSL sites. Representatives from ACFA, AgForce, Herbert River CANEGROWERS and HCQR, as well as HCPSL Board members and staff, got to view firsthand the on-ground services and extension activities that HCPSL delivers to the Herbert cane industry.

Photo above- Lawrence Di Bella (HCPSL Company Manager) and Rhiannan Harragon (HCPSL Field Agronomist) discussing Approved Seed cane options and tissue culture.

Grower representatives had presentations or viewed firsthand the following:

Rhiannan Harragon (HCPSL Field Agronomist) also presented data on the number of growers who requested RSD testing of seed cane for planting and the level of RSD infection. To date it was revealed that 69% of growers had not tested their seed cane prior to planting and that 9% of the samples tested were infected with RSD. The grower representatives all agreed it is very concerning growers were not testing their seed cane sources before planting and that there was a high level of RSD infection in growers seed cane. Growers are urged to purchase Approved Seed cane from HCPSL to curb the infection of RSD in commercial cane crops and to take advantage of the free seed cane inspection service HCPSL provides.

The day was very successful with Grower representatives leaving satisfied with the services being provided by HCPSL to their members.

Photo above- Adam Royle (HCPSL Senior Extension Agronomist) and Luke Buono (JCU Tropwater Water Quality Technician) presenting to the delegates.

For more information on the services offered by HCPSL please refer to the company website- or contact the Company Manager- Lawrence Di Bella.

Project CaNE and Catalyst share knowledge with local students

Posted by Ellie McVeigh

Earlier this week, projects under the Lower Herbert Water Quality Program (LHWQP) presented to Ingham State High School Ag students.

HCPSL staff members from Project CaNE and Project Catalyst had the opportunity to discuss and share knowledge with around 30 Year 10 and 11 students studying Agriculture.

The Project Catalyst team discussed soil testing, in particular how soil pH affects crop growth and nutrient availability. Students were eager to get practically involved by carrying out pH testing with a simple in-field testing kit.

Above: Ingham State High Ag Students conduct a in-field pH test.
Above: HCPSL Project Catalyst team members Bethany Donker and Megan Zahmel discuss soil pH with students

Project CaNE, together with TropWATER provided students an understanding on sugarcane crop nutrition as well as water quality. Aaron Davis from TropWATER gave students insight into water quality monitoring and sampling. 

Additionally, HCPSL & Project CaNE GIS Officer Rod Nielson showcased the use of drone technology in agriculture and how precision agriculture is being applied to the Herbert cane industry.

Thanks to Ingham State High for hosting and LHWQP Program Coordinator Carola Bradshaw for organizing a great event. HCPSL value the opportunity to share knowledge and discuss topics with passionate local ag students. 

Project Catalyst

Project CaNE™ and Project Catalyst are funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.


Posted by Ellie McVeigh

HCPSL Press Release

Yesterday, HCPSL met with Grower Collectives representatives and a number of planting contractors to investigate ways to better manage RSD and the adoption of Approved Seed cane.

HCPSL Company Manager Lawrence Di Bella presented data on the level of infection in growers “supposedly clean seed cane” to be used for commercial planting for the past 3 and current year.

20239.1%, year to date.

These figures are very concerning and really indicates that growers must be very valiant with their farm hygiene and obtain Approved Seed on a regular basis to get on top of this disease.

HCPSL, currently has around 5000-6000t of Approved Seed cane available through its plots this year, with orders for only for about 4000t at present. Not all varieties are available, but there are considerable volumes of MQ239, Q200, Q208, Q253, SRA26 and SRA31 still available. Growers who are seeking more of these varieties are asked to contact HCPSL staff to arrange collection of this cane.

HCPSL has wholestalk and billet harvesters in most plots now days making it easier for growers to access Approved Seed cane.

Photo above – Cutting Approved Seed cane at the HCPSL Stone River plot this year.

This year growers have the option for Hinchinbrook Towing Service- 0400 702 113 to collect cane from the Approved Seed plots on a fee for service arrangement. Whole stalk trailers can be collected from farm, dropped off to the appropriate HCPSL Approved Seed plot farm and then returned when filled with cane. Another option available is the collection of billets from the plots and delivered to your billet planter for planting.

Research undertaken by HCPSL and SRA clearly shows that growers who use Approved Seed cane for planting on average have a 13% increase in financial returns when compared to growers who don’t use Approved Seed cane.

Photo above – Cutting Approved Seed cane at the HCPSL Central plot this year.

Getting cane from the neighbour is not “clean” cane! Your neighbours may have RSD present in the cane you are getting from them.

Ask your self- “When was the last time when I purchased Approved Seed cane from the HCPSL plots, used tissue culture cane or long hot water treated cane?”

It is time now to get Approved Seed cane for your farm for next year and don’t forget to sterilise all your planting equipment before you plant it!

Contact your HCPSL officer to obtain Approved Seed cane- 47761808.

Project Squealer™ UPDATE: Use of GPS/Radio tracking collars and “Judas” pigs

Posted by Ellie McVeigh

HCPSL Press Release

Project Squealer™

An initiative of the Hinchinbrook Community Feral Pig Management Program.

“The Queensland Feral Pest Initiative (QFPI) provides funding from the Queensland Government and Australian Government.” QFPI Round 6- has funded this project.


Use of GPS/Radio tracking collars and “Judas” pigs

The Hinchinbrook Community Feral Pig Management Program (of which HCPSL is a partner) was successful in obtaining funding to investigate “Novel technologies to better manage feral pigs.”

As part of the project, the research team has commenced activities using GPS/Radio tracking collars fitted to “Judas” pigs. It is envisaged that the use of GPS tracking in conjunction with drone and thermal imagery cameras will allow the program to gain a better understanding of feral pig population numbers and habitat utilisation.

The project team has been working with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) to seek approval to fit tracking collars to 3 female feral pigs. A permit to Use Animals for a Scientific Purpose has been sort and approved via a Grant of Application for Registration as a Scientific User- HCPSL (Reg No. SUR001683). DAF have appointed Dr. Bronson Logan (DAF veterinarian) to assist the project team with fitting the GPS/ radio tracking collars.

The project team have purchased the following items with the research funding in preparation for the fitting of the GPS radio tacking collars:

A few weeks ago, 3 young sows were captured within the Hinchinbrook Shire, fitted with SIR GPS/radio tracking collars, and released back into the wild at 3 different locations. These feral pigs will be now tracked over the next few months to gain useful information on their movements, the habitats they utilise and hopefully congregate with other pigs with which they will roam, to provide intelligence on how to manage the larger populations of feral pigs across the district. It is intended that the information collected will provide strategic insights to program partners on how to better manage feral pigs across the shire longer term.

Photo above- One of the feral pigs captured and fitted with a SIR GPS/radio tracking collar waiting release back into the wild.

We are asking the farming and general community to assist the research project by not deliberately killing these collared pigs if it can be avoided. If you have accidentally killed one of the pigs fitted with the SIR GPS/radio tracking collar, we ask that you please return it to the Hinchinbrook Shire Council office (contact phone numbers are on the collar) or the HCPSL office, so that our valuable research can continue. Your assistance would be greatly appreciated.

If you have any questions pertaining to Project Squealer or the Hinchinbrook Community Feral Pig Management Program, please contact: Lawrence Di Bella (HCPSL Company Manager) on 0448084252 or Matthew Buckman (HSC Biosecurity Team Leader) on 0439005471.

Attention Growers: Soil Test and Pachymetra/Nematode Request Forms

Posted by Ellie McVeigh

Attention Herbert Growers – Please note price increases as of the 1st July 2023.

AORA 2023 Annual Conference Proceedings

Posted by Ellie McVeigh

Recently, HCPSL Company Manager, Lawrence Di Bella presented and attended the 2023 Australian Organics Recycling Association (AORA) Annual Conference.

The AORA Annual Conference is the principal conference in Australia for the recycled organics industry. Each conference is a forum for education, discussion and networking related to Organics Recycling.

To view conference proceedings and presentations CLICK HERE.

You will be required to enter the password – future

RFDS: Mental Health and Wellbeing on the Land

Posted by Ellie McVeigh

Natural disasters, droughts, financial stress, and geographic isolation are some of the challenges faced by people in regional and rural Queensland. 

These adversities often have a significant impact on entire communities, families, and the local economy. 

However, the impact on mental health and wellbeing can be overlooked and, due to the remoteness and lack of supply, accessing appropriate services can be more challenging than in urban areas.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service is working towards increasing access to mental health services in regional and rural Queensland through the development and distribution of the new book ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing on the Land’.

This valuable resource, which has been funded by a grant provided by Thankful4Farmers, aims to provide support to individuals and families who are struggling with mental health issues and help break down the barriers that prevent people from seeking help.

Download a copy of ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing on the Land’ via the link below.

Outback Mental Health | Royal Flying Doctor Service

The Sugar Industry on Show: The 2023 Australian Organics Recycling Association Conference

Posted by Ellie McVeigh


The Herbert sugarcane industry was on show at the 10th AORA annual conference which was held in Melbourne between the 7-9 June 2023. The AORA Annual conference is the principal conference in Australia for the recycled organics industry. Each conference is a forum for education, discussion and networking related to Organics Recycling. Over 320 attended the conference from across Australia and overseas.

Did you know that the sugarcane industry is one of Australia’s largest producers of recycled organics. Australia’s raw sugar mills produce between 600,000 – 1,800,000 tonnes per annum of Mill mud and Ash (being 2-6% of the sugarcane supply). Sugar mills would stop production if this valuable waste streams were not removed frequently from site.

HCPSL Company Manager Lawrence Di Bella was invited to present at the conference as a Keynote Speaker on the topic- “Seizing the Opportunity-Learnings from the sugarcane industry.”

Over the 3 days presenters from industry, government, machinery suppliers, end users and scientists presented on a range of topics. Other keynote speakers who shared the stage with Lawrence was, Frank Franciosi- Executive Director, USA Composting Council and Compost Research and Education Foundation and the Hon. Penelope Wensley former Governor of Queensland, National Soils Advocate & Patron of the Australian Organics Recycling Association.

Photo above- Lawrence Di Bella (HCPSL Company Manager) presenting at the AORA conference.

Lawrence discussed how the sugarcane industry utilises mill mud and ash products on farm, trials undertaken by HCPSL and its partners on biochar and green waste uses in sugarcane farming systems. The presentation covered off on logistics, crop response to these products, challenges and farmer extension activities undertaken to account for the nutrients from these products in a sugarcane system.

A field tour was conducted on the first day of the conference at the massive Repurpose It organic waste management business site on the out skirts of Melbourne. The field tour showcased machinery and technologies used by the recycled organics industry across the country, with companies showing their wears, with real live demonstrations.

Photo above – Large equipment showcased at the conference field trip.

A large 10t compost applicator used to remediate sodic soil in southern and western Victoria was on show at the field trip. Victorian farmers are using this type of implement to subsurface apply composts, gypsum, and lime at depths of 0.3-0.5m to manage sodicity, increase water holding capacity of soils and increase plant rooting depth leading to improvements in crop yields. Interesting some growers in Victoria are choosing to make significant investments in sub-surface soil remediation over purchasing additional high valued farming land in an attempt to vertically increase productivity of their already owned farms.

Photo left – Lawrence Di Bella standing next to the 10t compost applicator on show at the field trip.
Photo right – A side image of the applicator, note the hydraulically adjustable land wheels, large ripper legs and delivery shoots.

The second and third days of the conference were held at the Pullman Albert Park conference venue. Guest speakers covered some of the following topics:

The recycled organics industry is booming and will continue to boom as people seek to reduce their environmental footprint, we move to achieve net zero targets set, seek alternative nutrient sources, improve their soil health, and increase crop productivity. Those waste streams that used to end up in land fill are now making their way back into our communities and farms as repurposed products.

Give it some thought next time you throw that organic waste product in the rubbish bin, burn cane trash or dispose of that old timber pallet. Could that item be of value on my farm by improving my soil health, reducing my artificial fertiliser input or helping me increase my productivity. As fertiliser costs increase and our farming land ages after many years of cropping, we need to ask ourselves- “Are there other ways to improve my business?”

Photo left – Former HCPSL employee showing the differences in cane yields associated with a zonal mill ash application (on right) compared to untreated cane (on the left) from a trial on a heavy clay soil, in the Trebonne area.
Photo right – Green waste being applied to cane farms in the Bambaroo area, associated with the HCPSL led Landcare Green waste trials. Project collaborators: HCPSL, Burdekin Productivity Services, Burdekin, Townsville and Hinchinbrook Shire Councils.

For more information concerning the conference or AORA, please go to:

The Latest from Soil CRC

Posted by Ellie McVeigh

Soil CRC Newsletter: June 2023

The Soil CRC research community is looking forward to the Soil Science Australia conference being held in Darwin at the end of June.

As well as the chance to spend a few days in warmer climes for most of us, it is a great opportunity to for Soil CRC researchers and students to present their work to their peers and to hear about other research being undertaken across Australia. Read more about the Soil CRC’s contribution to this conference below.

On the subject of conferences, planning is progressing for the Soil CRC Participants Conference in Launceston, Tasmania at the end of August. Watch out for registration details in coming weeks. There is plenty of other activity going on in the Soil CRC, some of which is highlighted in the newsletter below.

Stay in touch with the Soil CRC and follow us on TwitterLinkedIn and YouTube.

Dr Michael Crawford
CEO, Soil CRC 

HCPSL hosts Biggest Morning Tea

Posted by Ellie McVeigh

Last Friday, HCPSL hosted a Biggest Morning Tea raising funds for the Cancer Council. Thanks to the generous donations from Majestic Café, Ingham Bakehouse and those in attendance, the event raised over $320 for the Cancer Council.

Thank you again to all the local organisations who came along – WISH, Canegrowers Herbert River, QSL, SRA and Nutrien Ag Solutions.

Reflecting on the event, the HCPSL team found it valuable to interact and collaborate with other local organisations, while raising funds for an important cause. Based on positive feedback from the morning, HCPSL hopes to host this event again in the future.