HCPSL received a visit by Queensland Senator the Hon. James McGrath last Thursday (2nd of March) to gain a better understanding of the sugarcane industry and activities undertaken by HCPSL.
The Hon. Senator James McGrath was elected to the Senate for Queensland in 2013, re-elected in 2016 and 2022. The Senator is currently the Deputy Chair of Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters.
The Senator met with the HCPSL Company Manager- Lawrence Di Bella and HCPSL Administration Manager- Sue Beccaris to discuss pest and disease issues experienced by the local industry and other company related matters.
HCPSL would like to thank the Senator for taking the time to visit HCPSL in his very busy schedule.
HCPSL will start seed cane inspections for growers tomorrow (Tuesday 31 January) for all Herbert growers. This year things will be done a little differently. HCPSL will be using three different methods of testing this season.
SRA’s Molecular Plant Pathologist Dr Chuong Ngo and Translational Research Pathologist Dr Rob Magarey visited HCPSL on 24 January to train HCPSL staff on the new Ratoon Stunting Disease (RSD) testing method called leaf sheaf biopsies (LSB).
A core (otherwise called a leaf punch) is taken from the leaf sheath of the cane plant, mixed with distilled water, and then sent off to the laboratory for analysis. The RSD bacteria weeps from the leaf punch into the distilled water over a few hours and is then analysed.
This sampling method is just as accurate as the expressed xylem sap method and both use the quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) test that was made available to growers two years ago by HCPSL. However, the LSB method is more efficient in the field for collection of samples. It can also be done earlier in the year that phase contrast microscopy (PCM) method. The PCM (microscope) method will still be made available to growers, but this method can be less accurate when detecting RSD than LSB and qPCR.
HCPSL staff will only be testing cane that will be used for planting in 2023. Growers will only be permitted to sample one block/variety for every 20 ha farmed. This ruling has been put in place to allow HCPSL staff to get across all farms. There will be no charge for Herbert growers using the seed inspection service.
Growers who wish to undertake a whole of farm RSD survey will be invoiced accordingly. This is not a core HCPSL service. Full farm RSD surveys will only be undertaken mid-year after all seed inspections are completed for cane to be planted this season.
The other change this year is that growers will need to come into the HCPSL office with their most recent farm maps, downloaded from the Wilmar website, to book a seed cane inspection with HCPSL staff. Due to changes at Wilmar concerning data management and security, HCPSL currently does not have copies of grower farm maps and data.
HCPSL is working with Wilmar to gain access to farm data, but new computer systems will need to be upgraded before growers can go online through the Wilmar website to grant permission to HCPSL to gain data access. Both HCPSL and Wilmar apologise for the inconvenience caused and are working together to resolve this matter.
The turnaround time from collection to receiving your results using the LSB and qPCR methods is about two weeks, so growers will need to plan which varieties/blocks they want tested. RSD samples will be processed by both the SRA and Metagen labs located in Brisbane and Gatton respectively.
HCPSL and SRA data have shown that growers who utilise Approved and disease-free planting material will grow on average 11 tonnes cane per hectare (tch) more than growers who don’t.
Don’t take it for granted that the cane you are planting this year is disease free, get it tested!
Growers are urged to contact the HCPSL office ASAP to organise a seed cane inspection by HCPSL field staff.
To download a copy of the Press Release, view the document below.
Prior to the conference staff from a number of the Productivity boards including HCPSL attended a biosecurity training workshop to become qualified Authorised Inspection Persons (AIP). The training covered the latest in biosecurity legislation and current regulations as well as the General Biosecurity Obligation held by all Queenslanders to ensure they do not spread a pest, disease, or contaminant. The training familiarized staff with their role and responsibilities as inspectors and covered off on biosecurity processes including the inspection of machinery in sugarcane production and the issuing of biosecurity certificates.
HCPSL would like to take this opportunity to remind growers and contractors who work in the sugarcane industry of their General Biosecurity Obligation. If you have machinery or equipment requiring an inspection, please contact the HPCSL office on (07) 4776 1808.
Last week, HCPSL and Burdekin Productivity Services (BPS) hosted productivity services groups from across the industry at the 2022 Combined Productivity Services Group Conference. Productivity groups from Mossman to Isis were in attendance. Over 60 industry agronomists and advisors visited the Herbert to explore news ideas, discuss issues, and share findings.
Over 2 days the groups focused on a range of topics, including – diseases, varieties, pests, technology, weeds, and nutrition. Throughout the conference, the groups discussed industry and district specific issues they faced.
Alike to the Herbert, delivering clean seed was a key triumph and core focus for many productivity groups. While RSD, pigs and rats were highlighted as common issues across various districts.
Initial presentations became the catalyst for extensive group discussion around methods for managing RSD and the effective delivery of clean seed. Conference participants then visited the Macknade site, where varieties were spotlighted. Presenters from across the industry explored the use of genomic selection, molecular markers and tissue culture.
During Day 2 the management of 2,4-D drift, weeds and feral pigs was discussed by the groups. Finally, the benefits of nutrient management, soil sampling and soil health were explored in detail by presenters. Presentations highlighted the need for soil health in sustaining productivity. To conclude the conference, interested participants were invited to visit the HCPSL hot water tanks at Victoria Mill.
Presentations and discussions from across the 2 days proved widely beneficial for all in attendance. HCPSL thanks all productivity groups and industry professionals who attended the conference and shared knowledge, contributed ideas and engaged in robust discussions.
HCPSL would like to acknowledge the following Sponsors of the 2022 Combined Productivity Services Group Conference – Wilmar, Nufarm, SRA and Burdekin Productivity Services.
HCPSL was notified by CANEGROWERS on the 1st of December 2022 that the Permit to Allow minor use of a registered Agvet Chemical Product for the control of Australian Native Ground rats in lodged sugarcane crops has been granted (permit number PER92695) on the 30/11/2022. The permit is valid for the period 30 November 2022- 30 November 2027. It allows aerial application of RATOFF sachets into lodged cane from a helicopter or drone.
There are now 2 permits in place for rat management that have been approved in the last 2 months:
Damage Mitigation Permit (permit number WA0047339)- held by HCPSL for ground baiting applications.
APVMA permit (PER92695)- held by CANEGROWERS for the use of Ratoff® via helicopter or drone.
Conditions under the APVMA permit:
Use must be in accordance with conditions of a Damage Mitigation Permit issued by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science.
The Permit Holder (Canegrowers) will need to advise the APVMA each year of the total area of cane crops treated via aerial application methods.
Accurate records of baiting activities must be recorded in the return of operations form, which HCPSL will compile on behalf of the Herbert industry. Cane farmers will need to notify HCPSL when rat baiting has occurred, estimated cane losses, and estimated number of rats taken. HCPSL will be reporting areas treated to CANEGROWERS to meet the various permit reporting requirements to DES and APVMA accordingly.
The HCPSL Company Manager would like to thank Mick Quirk (CANEGROWERS) who coordinated the permit submission documentation and meeting with key governmental staff concerning this matter.
For more information concerning the permit, please contact: Lawrence Di Bella- HCPSL Company Manager on 0448084252.
HCPSL has been granted a Damage Mitigation Permit (permit number WA0047339) on the 11/11/2022, for the culling of rats in Herbert sugarcane fields from the Queensland Department of Environment and Science (DES).
Under the permit Herbert River canefarmers will be permitted to cull the Grassland melomys (Melomys burtoni) and Cane rat (Rattus sordidus) found in sugarcane fields. The registered rat baits available to the industry are Ratoff® and Racumin®.
Conditions under the permit:
Activities authorised by this permit are to be undertaken in strict accordance with the Property Management Plan that was received by DES on the 10/10/2022. Importantly, non-lethal methods to deter the breeding of both rat species must be applied as the preferred method to control the afore-mentioned species.
The activities associated with this permit only apply to relevant properties (all Herbert cane farms) as listed by HCPSL and received by DES on 28/10/22.
Accurate records of animals taken under this permit must be recorded in the return of operations form, which HCPSL will compile on behalf of the industry. Cane farmers will need to notify HCPSL when rat baiting has occurred, estimated cane losses, and estimated number of rats taken. Reporting to DES will be undertaken every 3 months.
The HCPSL Company Manager would like to thank Rod Nielson (HCPSL staffer) and Mick Quirk (CANEGROWERS Brisbane) who have assisted with the permit submission documentation and meeting with key DES staff.
For more information concerning the permit, please contact Lawrence Di Bella- HCPSL Company Manager on 0448084252
Congratulations to Ethan Waters the winner of 2022 C.N. Barton Medal for best JCU engineering thesis seminar. He received the award on Thursday evening of the 27th of October at JCU. Additionally, Ethan was the runner-up for the Engineers Australia | Institute of Engineering Technology Student Seminar Competition QLD Finals for Software, Electrical & Electronic Engineering. He received the award on Wednesday night, the 19th of October, at the Engineers Australia office in Brisbane.
Ethan was the James Cook University representative, presenting his thesis on “Sugarcane Health Monitoring and Ratoon Stunting Disease (RSD) Detection with Freely Available Multispectral Satellites”.
Ethan thanked Engineers Australia and the Institute of Engineering Technology for hosting the events. He also thanked his JCU supervisors, Mostafa Rahimi Azghadi and Carla Ewels, for their guidance and the team from HCPSL who assisted him with his studies.
Ethan will continue to work (as a JCU student) with HCPSL staff to progress the research he has undertaken into RSD detection.
Once again congratulations Ethan, your dedication and hard work has paid off.