SRDC Grower Group innovation project final report Profits through Recycling: Pilot processing of sugar industry and community by-products to improve on-farm sustainability
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GGP034 set out to establish if cane farmers could produce on farm a percentage of their farm’s nutrient requirement from sugar industry and community wastes at a competitive cost and thus reduce off farm inputs. It was hoped that the development of an appropriate formula for a quality compost might reverse negative aspects of current agricultural practices, especially leaching of nitrates and phosphorus into underground acquifers as established by analysis in the Mackay and Burdekin districts, and assist in the reduction of compaction of soils whilst improving nutrient, oxygen and water retention. If a practical compost formula result could be developed, this practice could prove of significant benefit in protecting the natural pureness of water acquifers with possible follow-on benefits to the Great Barrier Reef and Global Climate Change. The experiment conducted within this project compared compost, compost plus granular and granular treatments as a nutrient source which determined that the plant cane yield and quality was not influenced by the type and rate of applied nutrients. If there has been a real difference in productivity between these treatments, the trial design has not been able to capture it.