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.
Following the informative Mill By-product Analysis presentation in July of last year, the Project CaNE team recently held a Mill By-product infield demonstration with Agro Group showcasing the latest technology and methods for applying mill-by products.
Extension Agronomist Graeme Holzberger shared how the workshop was a valuable opportunity for growers to see first-hand how the products are applied.
“To actually see the truck applying it out and have Kristen there to show the process and explain how to manage it…answered a lot of questions.“
Discussions with Project CaNE Extension Agronomists on the day touched on various topics of grower interest, including storing and managing the product once it arrives on farm, application methods such as banding, and the implications for fertiliser rates following different by-product applications.
“One of the growers already uses a product on one of his farms. He was looking at sending mud down to another farm a bit further from the mill. He was concerned about the different environment, different soil type and how that might change the effectiveness of the mud.
Another grower is from the Coolbie Rollingstone district, has never had access to the product but was keen to give it a go. Being there and seeing the process and having those questions answered, he is now considering taking up the practice.“
– Graeme Holzberger, HCPSL Extension Agronomist
Have any questions of your own around mill mud or ash? Contact HCSPL (07) 4776 1808 to speak with an Agronomist. To learn more about Clear as Mud demonstrations under Project CaNE, visit the HCPSL website: https://hcpsl.com/current-projects/project-cane-tm/
Last week HCPSL Board members Gino Zatta and Greg Erkilla and HCPSL Company Manager Lawrence Di Bella visited research facilities, machinery manufacturers and other industries to investigate new technologies and equipment that could be used by HCPSL and the Herbert cane industry.
The group ventured in cotton and grain country visiting HCPSL Extension Officer- Ellie McVeigh, who now resides near Dalby with her partner James Formosa. Ellie continues to work for HCPSL on Project CaNE and Cultivate Farms projects, delivering nutrient management plans for Herbert growers and supporting other activities in which the company is undertaking.
The group got to view firsthand Swarm Farm’s robotic driverless spray units which operate on the cotton farm in which James is employed. The group also got to review other grain and cotton technologies and operations during the visit.
On the way to Dalby and Toowoomba the group visited the Metagen labs and process facilities in Gatton. At this site the HCPSL team met with Dr Anthony Young (University of Queensland lecturer and scientist) and Shane Fitzgerald (owner/ Director of Metagen) and his team to review the LSB RSD testing lab and general company operations.
The HCPSL team also visited Gessner in Toowoomba to investigate small billet planters that could possibly be used to plant HCPSL approved seed plots into the future. At this stage HCPSL is still considering what machinery options it may use to plant its Approved Seed plots into the future given labour shortages and the requirement to plant hot water treated cane.
When back in Brisbane, the HCPSL team visit Drs. Clair Bolton and Chuong Ngo at SRA Indooroopilly to view firsthand the SRA RSD and tissue culture labs. The tissue culture propagation process was a real eye opener for both Greg and Gino. From one sugarcane meristem many tissue culture plants can be generated for industry use. HCPSL obtains annually tissue culture plants from SRA for Herbert growers to propagate on their own farms.
The final visit for the team was to meet with Dr. Weijin Wang (Queensland government soil scientist) at Queensland government’s Ecoscience Precinct in Brisbane. The team discussed opportunities to work together in the future and visit the largest soils and water laboratory in the southern hemisphere. HCPSL has had a long working relationship with Dr. Weijin Wang, working jointly on projects to better understand nitrogen loss pathways, cover crops and enhanced efficiency fertilisers. Dr Wang’s team does the research, with HCPSL Extension Agronomy staff taking the research and making practical outcomes on the ground for local farmers.
The 3-day trip was informative, thought provoking and will greatly assist HCPSL drive its operations and the local industry forward into the future.
Last month, the HCPSL Project Catalyst & Project Cane teams hosted two EM Mapping workshops. The workshops aimed at ‘Getting the most out of Your Map’ by providing growers with a better understanding for the EM data collection, map interpretation and how they can utilise maps effectively with guidance from their agronomic advisor.
Growers enjoyed the practical approach of the workshop as they worked through two case study scenarios that dealt with different block conditions identified through EM mapping and strategic soil testing. The case studies demonstrated the value of EM mapping for cost savings when selecting soil test sites and applying amendments.
The Soil CRC (for High Performance Soils) was established in 2017 to give farmers the knowledge and tools they need to make decisions on extremely complex soil management issues. It bridges the gap between soil science and farm management, ensuring that soil performance is increased not just in the short term, but in the long term. The Soil CRC brings together an elite group of industry partners, with 39 Participants, with the Australian Government contributing $39.5 million, $19.1 million from other partners and $107.7 million in-kind contributions, over a 10-year period.
The Soil CRC (for High Performance Soils) held its first annual conference since COVID-19 lockdowns, in Adelaide last week. HCPSL Company Manager- Lawrence Di Bella attended the conference with partners and associates from across Australia and New Zealand present.
HCPSL and its sister organisation Burdekin Productivity Services signed up to become Associates of the Soil CRC, with both organisations being the only sugarcane industry groups involved. Eight universities, 21 Farming Groups and other community groups from across the country were represented and are involved in the Soil CRC, tackling issues that drive industry sustainability, productivity, and profitability.
HCPSL is involved in following projects funded by the CRC Soils:
2.3.001 Visualising Australia’s Soils
2.2.004 Affordable rapid field-based soil tests*
2.2.007 Rapid soil test using ‘lab-on-chip’ and an app*
3.1.01 Review and meta-analysis of waste-derived fertiliser products, nano-porous materials for pesticide delivery, moisture retention and microbial carrier technologies*
3.1.006 The value of organic amendments in unlocking soil nutrients and improving nutrient use efficiency *
3.2.001 Improving pesticide delivery efficiency*
3.3.004 New organic amendments for retaining soil moisture*
3.4.001 Evaluating alternative rhizobial carriers*
4.1.002 Plant based solutions to improve soil performance*
4.1.005 Evaluating ecosytems role in increasing soil carbon and soil resilience
4.1.007 Building soil resilience and carbon through plant diversity*
6.1.001 Building Capacity
Note: Those projects reviewed by HCPSL Company Manager during the conference proceedings indicated by a *.
A number of the projects have been completed, some mid-life and some just commencing.
University staff and students are working hard on issues specific to the Herbert cane industry. Some of the notable projects that are delivering outcomes are:
The research team from Griffith University and the University of Newcastle are in their early stages of producing organic compounds that can carry imidacloprid for cane grub management.
Recently, the team from The Universities of Newcastle and Tasmania recently visited HCPSL in Ingham, to assess rapid field-based soil tests and a ‘lab-on-chip’ and an app.
Most of the ‘Plant based solutions to improve soil performance’ project team from Southern Cross University, HCPSL, Central West Farming Systems Group (NSW), NSW Department of Primary Industries, Murdoch University, Charles Sturt University, Facey Group (WA), Hart Farming Group (SA) and Riverine Plains Farming Group (Victoria) visited the Hart field trial site at Clare, South Australia and discussed the project findings to date.
This project will determine how soil performance and profitability are affected by increased crop diversity in rotational systems in both broadacre grains and sugarcane industries. The project will investigate the potential for plant-based solutions to improve soil performance through rhizosphere modification.
After the conference, Lawrence Di Bella (HCPSL Company Manager), visited the Hart Farming Group and South Australia No-Till Farmers Association (SANTFA) to review business operations and work undertaken.
The learnings of the conference and field visits will be implemented by HCPSL over the next few months and years. We can learn a great deal and address issues our industry experiences by ‘looking over the fence’ to other agriculture industries.
My name is Ethan Waters, I am in my 4th year for a double bachelor’s in electrical engineering and data science. I am currently conducting my honours thesis with the goal of detecting RSD with the satellite sentinel-2. I am in the process of developing a free prototype program that will inform farmers which of their blocks likely contain RSD. This will allow them to make more informed decisions to prevent the spread of RSD, increasing yield and profits for farmers. The benefit of using large scale imaging with a satellite is the ability to analyse an entire farm for RSD at the same time, rather than relying on a limited number of samples. Therefore, this will provide a more accurate indication of whether a block contains RSD than sample testing.
Brief Methodology Explanation:
Sentinel-2 is a multispectral satellite which captures the reflectance of different waves, including those that cannot be seen with the human eye. A number of different vegetation indices will be calculated for each satellite image and used as an input to an algorithm I develop. I am specifically interested in vegetation indices that look at moisture and water retention of plant matter, given that RSD reduces water retention.
Demonstrating a successful prototype would provide strong grounds to apply for a number of grants and investments into sugarcane research to identify and prevent disease. This will help growers in the industry increase yield and profits.
We need your help!
HCPSL staff will be contacting growers over the next few days asking for permission for Ethan (JCU student) and HCPSL staff to access your farm data to undertake this study. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
If Ethan is successful in identifying RSD using satellite imagery, it will greatly assist growers better understand and manage the disease.
For more information on the project contact Ethan Waters on 0435 626 685.
HCPSL Warrens Hill GPS base station is operational.
Recently HCPSL has made a significant investment, with the installation of a new GPS base station to its community network. The new base station will operate on frequency 466.1000. Like all HCPSL base stations in its network, it has been surveyed in for transferability between other base stations when operating across the district.
The new installation is part of a strategy to improve GPS base station signal across the Herbert cane growing region. During HCPSL’s recent Strategic Planning process (conducted in late 2021 and early 2022), HCPSL members identified the GPS network as critical to farm operations in the district and requested the company to continue to provide this service to its membership. The HCPSL Board recently approved its 2022-23 budget, with further upgrades and maintenance of the GPS network approved to be undertaken over the next few months.
For more information concerning the HCPSL GPS base station network please contact the HCPSL Manager.
Herbert growers are invited to express their interest in Project Catalyst’s Practice Change and Grower Support Program in 2022.
This program offers growers a chance to be involved with innovative practices, agronomic advice, demonstration trials and grower information sessions. Participating growers will receive agronomic support to evaluate their current farming system and identify and adopt two farming practice changes.
As part of the program eligible growers will receive, free of charge, a full-scale nutrient management plan. They will also have access to a number of tools, services and opportunities over the course of the program.