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Australian Cane Growers Boost Production, Minimise Water Impacts

20 August 2012

AUSTRALIA - The Granshaw Farming sugar cane family business based at Dalbeg in the Burdekin has recently embraced new technology that will optimise inputs and minimise water quality impacts, while boosting production and earnings.

Brothers Terry and Bryan Granshaw say their current farming system comprises minimum tillage, GPS controlled traffic (2.0 metre dual row), green cane harvesting and legume fallow crops.

Their new acquisition is a GPS-based, fully automatic liquid fertiliser and herbicide shielded sprayer, funded with assistance from the Reef Rescue programme.

Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) senior project officer Rob Milla said the technology made spraying fertiliser and herbicide in the paddock an exact science.

"With the new computer onboard and rigged to their spray unit, each section of paddock is getting exactly the right amount of fertiliser and herbicide," Mr Milla said.

"Every nozzle on the unit is individually controlled by a solenoid, and each tank has a variable rate flow controller installed.

"The unit is capable of applying liquid fertiliser on the bed area, broad spectrum knockdown herbicide in the furrow and banded residual herbicide or selective herbicide in the row.

"The technology allows the Granshaws to do all of this in a single pass - meaning less crop disturbance and bigger fuel savings.

"The system has fully automated turn on and shutoff for fertiliser and herbicides (at a variable rate) and all applications are GPS logged and uploaded into farm recording software.

"This means the Granshaws are able to comply with workplace health and safety and Reef Protection record keeping."

Mr Milla said the benefits don't stop there, with lower fertiliser application in areas of lower yield potential and targeted herbicide application in areas of high weed pressure.

"Also, no herbicide or fertiliser is sprayed outside paddock boundaries or buffer zones, even with angled rows," he said.

"The Granshaws are just one example of cane growers who are adopting new technologies to enhance their economic and environmental management.

"A number of growers are using computerised irrigation technologies to review their individual paddock needs and target their use of water.

"We are currently working with several farm owners to develop irrigation and fertiliser regimes that can be operated with a laptop or mobile phone."

Mr Milla and his Agri-Science Queensland team have been working with the Granshaws and local BSES officers. They assisted the Granshaws to access funding for their latest innovation from the Reef Rescue programme, which is administered by NQ Dry Tropics.

TheCropSite News Desk

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