CANEGROWERS has welcomed the 2016 Reef Report Card and its finding of progress towards targets for nutrient, chemical and sediment run-off.
“Our message to our sugarcane farming members is to hold your heads high, you are doing good work,” CANEGROWERS CEO Dan Galligan said. “This report is based on data which is more than 12 months old and does not include all of our industry efforts towards improved water quality.
“High levels of engagement in government reef programs and the involvement of 70% of the cane farming area of Queensland in the industry best practice program Smartcane BMP show growers are working to care for the environment while improving productivity and profitability.
“CANEGROWERS and the industry want to see a vibrant and healthy Great Barrier Reef and are committed to assist in securing its future.
“In sugarcane farming, the environment and economics do line up – using fertiliser effectively and keeping it on the farm, in the crop and out of creeks, benefits both water quality and the business bottom-line.”
The Report Card shows a reduced dissolved inorganic nitrogen load in the catchments with the greatest annual reduction of 5.5% occurring in the Burdekin region.
“This outcome is a direct result of growers adopting the SIX EASY STEPS nutrient management system, which is industry best practice,” Mr Galligan said.
Chemicals leaving the catchments had reduced by 36% at June 2016. The greatest annual reduction was from the Wet Tropics region (4.8%) where band spraying residual herbicides was increasingly adopted and fewer applications are being made on ratoon cane crops.
“The hard work and positive changes growers have been undertaking on their farms will continue to show the Australian industry is a world leader in sustainable sugar production,” Mr Galligan said. “We are proud of our achievements.
“The 70% of cane farming land involved in Smartcane BMP represents 280,792 hectares. The farming practices on that land is now benchmarked in the program and growers continue to move through to accreditation in the three water quality-relevant modules.”
237 farms now accredited as farming at or above industry best practice, up from 145 accredited farms in 2016 and representing 15% of the cane production area in Queensland.
CANEGROWERS looks forward to future reports that are collaboratively generated and contain all of the results and outcomes from Smartcane BMP so that they reflect the significant efforts of farmers.