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.
As part of the recent focus on mill by-products, HCPSL Project CaNE and Project Catalyst staff toured Victoria Mill to develop a stronger understanding of the mill’s operation and generation of mill by-products.
The tour covered the entire process of sugar extraction, highlighting various processes that impact on the quantity and composition of mill mud.
This was the first mill tour for Project CaNE Extension Agronomist Bailey Kilpatrick who appreciated the opportunity to view the milling process from start to finish.
“You can see the effort the Mill is making to extract as much sugar as they can and clean it [from impurities such as mud] as well as they can,’” he shared.
Bailey was interested to see the clarification process with the addition of flocculant and was surprised by the quantity of mud being processed at once through vacuum filtration systems. The automation and chemical inputs such as lime required to keep the juice flowing through evenly also generated interest from the tour group.
Reflecting on the tour, Bailey noted:
“There is actually a lot that goes into getting the mud extracted, it’s not a simple process.“
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/
As part of Project CaNE’s ‘Clear As Mud’ Demonstration Program, growers across the Herbert have had the opportunity to assess various mill mud application rates and methods on their farms.
At one of the sites, the project team is investigating the sub-surface application of mill mud. Sub-surface applications can provide benefits to the grower, as well as the broader environment. This application method limits nutrient loss for the grower, as more of the applied product remains in the block after rainfall. Additionally, this reduces sediment and nutrient runoff into local waterways.
The images below have been captured at a local grower’s block. The images illustrate the application method being investigated as part of ‘Clear As Mud’.
During August, the Project CaNE team began to harvest Demonstration sites. HCPSL staff member, Bailey Kilpatrick captured these photos whist assisting the harvester crew at one of the various demos sites across the Herbert. The team looks forward to sharing results and findings from these demonstrations with growers in the future.
This demonstration site is investigating Nitrogen Stabilisers as part of Project CaNE. To learn more about the project, visit the Project CaNE Page.
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.
To conclude Project CaNE’s Back to Basics Virtual series, the team has put together some key take away messages from each of the episodes. By creating these videos the Project CaNE team hope growers across the Herbert can access information in an easy-to-understand, convenient format. HCPSL aims to continually improve and adapt the way we deliver information to growers and the community, so please leave a comment or feedback for our team.