Implementation of a 2M farming system : SRDC Grower Group Innovation Project final report
The SYDJV with research conducted over some fourteen years, recommended the adoption of a new farming system based on controlled traffic, minimum tillage, and break cropping. Cane harvesters and associated haul out equipment have the highest axle loadings of any agricultural equipment resulting in severe compaction of cane growing land. The design of modern harvesters has focused on increasing throughput to contain costs. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a mismatch between row spacing and harvester wheel tracks. While sugarcane displays environmental plasticity by adjusting to a range of row spacing without yield loss, research has shown that going to 1.8m row spacing and beyond is outside this range. Yield losses of 10% in plant cane for 1.8m rows have been shown except for some high input, irrigated cropping situations. Harvester design has placed constraints on the farming system where in fact the harvester should be built to suit the optimum row spacing necessary for a sustainable farming system where both economic and environmental factors are taken into consideration. After listening to debates within the Tropical City Group regarding the relative merits of 1.8m singles and duals, 1.9m duals, and 2m duals the Singh Harvesting Group believed that the 2m/0.8m dual row system was the best option. The experience of the Petersens in Maryborough and Gerry Deguara of Mackay gave the group confidence that this configuration was worth testing in NQ. The group had prior experience with 1.8m/0.5m duals and 1.8m wide singles.