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SRA welcomes new engineer to harvest efficiency team

Sugar Research Australia (SRA) has added new engineering expertise to its team that is working with the Australian sugarcane industry to improve the efficiency of the harvest.

SRA has welcomed mechanical engineer Mr Joseph Bonassi to its team of research and adoption staff, where he will work on this major focus area of research.

Mr Bonassi is based at SRA’s Ingham research station alongside SRA Adoption Officer, Mr Phil Patane, and the pair will conduct vital research and adoption activities across the industry.

This includes activities as part of a significant investment into sugarcane harvest efficiency through the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural R&D for Profit programme, where SRA is leading major integrated research and adoption activities.

SRA CEO Mr Neil Fisher said that Mr Bonassi was an Ingham local and he was already very familiar with the sugarcane industry.

“Joseph has also previously completed a work-placement at the Isis Central Sugar Mill through a Sugar Research Institute scholarship in 2015, as well as placements with Wilmar in the Burdekin and in the Herbert,” Mr Fisher said.

“Harvest efficiency is an issue that requires collaboration along the value chain, including from harvester operators, growers, and millers, so Mr Bonassi’s insights into milling will be valuable as he takes on this new role.”

Mr Bonassi has a Bachelor of Engineering through James Cook University.

“Improving harvest efficiency requires a collaborative effort and it is exciting to come to SRA to work in an area where there is such strong interest from all of the industry to achieve results,” Mr Bonassi said. “It has been previously estimated that harvest losses could cost the industry up to $150 million per year, so there is massive potential to recapture that lost value for the industry.”

Herbert grower and harvesting contractor, Mr Vince Russo, said further skills within the harvest losses research team would be welcomed.

“The industry along the coast continues to make improvements in harvesting efficiency, and Joseph will add value to that work,” he said.

“I believe there are still significant losses across the value chain. In order to minimise losses in the harvest sector we need to firstly identify the origin of the losses then accurately evaluate the magnitude and value of the loss. The solutions will be varied, from simple practice changes to the possibility of machine design changes, some of which may be small while others may need to be radical in nature.

“Joseph will add the strong engineering focus required by the team to help solve some of the loss issues.”

The Rural R&D for Profit project referenced in this media release is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture as part of its Rural R&D for Profit programme.

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