RP161 is about planning, application and education,
not just for the grower but also for us. We’re going on that educational journey with them
with the support and background of science. We’ve been on a journey of looking to improve
our business and our management practices now for quite some time, close to 20 years,
and we saw RP161 as an opportunity to partner up with people who actually enhance our business
and bring to the table some expertise that we didn’t have.
We’ve learnt that following the SIX EASY STEPS is the right way to go. We’ve been able to
cut back on our fertiliser, our crop has gone up in fact, this year we will have cut our
best crop ever. We’ve made lots of changes. We’ve learnt that
our management practices in the past were actually masking some of the real issues that
were there, so we’re actually learning more about our soils, we’re learning more about
our topography, for want of a better word, drainage, soil condition and learning that
you need to manage those issues as well as your nutrient management and your irrigation
management. Like most growers you think you’ve got everything
fine-tuned and under control but there’s always room for improvement somewhere.
We’ve learnt, well it’s something we already knew, we know that we don’t know everything
there is to know about our business and that quite often you need to go and seek the expertise
that your business needs. It’s continuing to learn about the things that we don’t know.
We’ve increased the crop so that’s definitely, like that’s a major bonus and it hasn’t cost
us anything more to do it really, like it’s cost less to grow more cane.
One of the most positive outcomes is the fact that we’ve actually reduced inputs and reduced
the intensity on the old farming system and we’ve actually come out the other side with
a similar if not better result in terms of production.
The main one is the fertiliser in the past we’ve been putting too much fertiliser on,
and we’ve got that under control now, we calibrate regularly, our fertiliser box – we want
to make sure that we’re doing everything right. This project has been so well run by Farmacist,
that it’s made it easier, that much easier it is unbelievable.
We received a hell of a lot of support from Evan, Jayson and the girls, especially Heidi.
Whenever I ring, there’s nothing’s too difficult for them to come out and lend a hand, and
they’re not afraid to get dirty either – they get into it.
For the industry and the Great Barrier Reef, it’s a great project because you know, not
only are we doing nutrition plans where the right inputs are getting put in the right
place, but we’re also helping growers with calibrations, we’re having a look at irrigation,
we’re having a look at EC mapping, we’re having a look at lime and gypsum prescriptions, we’re
looking at improving the soil water relationship. It’s not all about nutrients but from the
Reef’s point of view and the environments point of view, if we can contain the nutrient
on-field where it’s supposed to be and get that crop using it and we’re reducing losses
coming out of the paddock, well it’s a win-win for everybody. It’s a win for the grower because,
you know, he’s using his inputs efficiently. It’s a win for the crop because we’re getting
more cane out of it and it’s a win for the environment because we’re not getting the
losses that we may have done in the past. It’s made me more open to somebody else coming
and have a look at what I’m doing. It’s basically like going to the doctor and having a check-up.
There’s no harm in it, all you can be told is what you need to do to improve.
I would encourage other growers to take the opportunity to participate in the project.
It does give you a lot more intimate knowledge of the way that you farm and the issues, all
of the issues that you have to deal with rather than dealing with nutrition just in isolation.