​Media Release

Keeping it sweet in sugar country

10 December 2014

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, joined the Member for Dawson, George Christensen, in Mackay today to meet with cane growers and launch an industry booklet to enhance crop yield and productivity.

“Here in Queensland, sugarcane is the largest agricultural crop producing about 30 million tonnes of cane, with a gross value of production of $1.1 billion in 2012–13 — and with approximately 16,000 people directly employed across the growing, harvesting, milling and transport sectors of the sugar industry Australia-wide. We want to do everything we can to support everyone involved in the industry,” Minister Joyce said.

“Today I’m launching the Sugar Research Australia’s (SRA) High Yielding Cane Booklet which is a great example of how the industry and governments’ joint investment in research and development can lead to benefits in the paddock and at the farmgate.

“The objective of the Australian sugar industry is to maximise yield while maintaining whole farm profitability and this booklet links proven outcomes from research projects with practical tools for sugarcane growers to adopt on farm specifically relating to their region, to boost their productivity and increase crop yields.”

Yield variability within similar productivity zones can be significant, which shows that farmers’ decisions are critical to the success of their crops and ultimately the success of their businesses. The booklet shows farmers how yield can be improved by the management decisions made at each step throughout the crop production cycle.

The booklet highlights the importance of good management and the benefits that fallowing, crop variety selection, planting, nutrients and their application, can make to crop yield. It also helps farmers to better manage weeds, pests and diseases.

“We know that a well-managed fallow can result in increased yields of up to 40 per cent in the following crop – that’s why this booklet is so important. Farmers can also save on irrigation costs by applying 85 per cent of a crop’s water requirements without significantly reducing yield,” Minister Joyce said.

“The SRA is doing tremendous work in producing this booklet but also through the direct support for our growers on the ground too. SRA are hosting a series of free industry update forums on Yellow Canopy Syndrome (YCS) in Queensland from 9 to 11 December 2014. Industry forums are occurring in the region right now and I’d encourage all growers to attend one these sessions.

“Cane growers should be confident that SRA continues to work hard in supporting their businesses and increasing their returns at the farmgate.”

While visiting the region, Minister Joyce had the opportunity to hear directly from primary producers in Ayr and Bowen at local agricultural forums where the Agricultural Competitiveness Green Paper was discussed.

To access the SRA’s High Yielding Cane Booklet, visit sugarresearch.com.au​.

For more information on the YCS Industry Update forums, visit sugarresearch.com.au/page/Your_SRA_at_work/Events​.​