Archive for the ‘Soil Health’ Category

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 

Soil to Food Conference, Atherton – 3rd & 4th June

Posted by Ellie McVeigh

Interest in soil health has been gathering momentum within the Wet Tropics farming community for the past decade. This event is an opportunity for farmers and the agricultural industry to connect with each other and share ideas and innovations that support healthy soil leading to healthy people and profits.

Speakers include:

Topics on the agenda include:



The event is delivered by Terrain NRM through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program. It is also supported by Wet Tropics SoilCare, TNQ Drought Hub, Sustainable Table, Regeneration International, Lower Wet Tropics SoilCare, Tropical Pasture Seeds, Cairns Micro Greens, Eco Bananas, Skybury and Mungalli Biodynamics.


Posted by Ellie McVeigh

Earlier this week, the annual Regenerative Cane Farming Forum was held in Ingham. The forum attracted over 85 growers, from various districts, from the Far North to the Burdekin. The event had a practical focus, allowing forum attendees to learn and gain knowledge from farmers who have successfully changed their farming system.

As always, grower innovation was also a key theme throughout the forum. Attendees had the opportunity to visit farms and see cover crops, controlled traffic, permanent beds, soil health, compost and new machinery in action.

The forum was greatly beneficial for both growers and industry professionals. The event allowed attendees to build on existing knowledge, share ideas, discuss limitations and connect with other like-minded growers.

Thank you to the forum organisers, Soil Land and Food and the Regen Cane Network, who put together a valuable event for cane farmers in the Herbert and throughout North Queensland.

HCPSL Walk & Talk 2023!

Posted by Ellie McVeigh

HCPSL invites you to the 2023 Annual Walk & Talk!

Date: Wednesday 15th March 2023

Commencing: 8am to 2pm

Location: HCPSL & SRA Office, 181 Fairford Road Ingham

Displays and Presentations will include:

RSVP Friday 10th March:

For catering purposes, please RVSP to HCPSL on (07) 4776 1808

2023 Regen Cane Farming Forum comes to Ingham!

Posted by Ellie McVeigh

If you are a Cane Farmer or work in the industry then come along to this exciting event of networking and sharing of practical information.

Learn from farmers who are innovating and making changes to their farming system as they share their experience in the paddock.

The forum will include small group visits to 4 farms in the Ingham district over 2 days along with a fantastic social night of networking and a chance to meet innovative companies supporting cane farmers who are sponsoring the event.

For further information visit The Regenerative Cane Farming Forum website here.