The costly and significant problem of sugarcane harvest losses will receive a major research investment boost, thanks to a new $5.5 million announcement as part of the Commonwealth Government’s Rural R&D for Profit Programme.
Losses from mechanical sugarcane harvesting have been conservatively estimated to cost the Australian sugarcane industry $150 million per year.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, announced a new project to address this major issue as part of round two of the Rural R&D for Profit Programme.
“This project will see Sugar Research Australia (SRA) as the Industry Owned Corporation for research and development collaborate with a range of other organisations to address strategic research and adoption issues relating to harvest losses,” SRA Chairman Dr Ron Swindells said.
“This is a massive investment in a priority area of research. This investment offers significant potential for gains for our $1.5 billion sugarcane growing and milling industry.”
Dr Swindells said that the industry already understood that significant amounts of sugar was lost during the mechanical harvesting process, with further issues associated with future ratoon crops of cane, and overall sugar quality.
SRA has identified reducing the losses from mechanical harvesting as one of four priority Impact Areas of research investment.
This new investment will allow SRA to collaboratively address research gaps and work toward the best outcome for the industry.
“We know that the industry could be sharing a greater ‘harvest pie’. This research will deliver valuable information about the true size of that pie, and how all sectors of the industry can increase the size of their slice.
“SRA welcomes the commitment from Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, and the Federal Government toward this vital sugarcane industry research.
“Benefits will flow throughout regional communities and economies, which makes this research investment a win for growers, a win for harvester drivers, a win for millers, a win for the community, and a win for industry stakeholders.”
Project collaborators include the Queensland University of Technology, the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Norris ECT, Agtrix, and MSF Sugar.
Across the project, investment includes $3.5M from the Commonwealth and $1.7M from SRA, with additional contributions from the other collaborators.