Implementation of improved sugarcane farming systems in the Clare area, Burdekin District, North Queensland : SRDC Grower Group Innovation Project final report
The MIG was interested to quantify the benefits of moving from their current 1.52m row configuration to a row configuration that better matches tractors, harvesters and haulage equipment using GPS technology. As a result of conducting this project, the MIG has confidence that preformed beds will improve their long term sustainability and profitability by reducing input costs compared to the current system, at least for the plant crop. In particular, significant opportunities to reduce: •land preparation costs, from $265/ha in the conventional practice down to $131/ha, •general growing costs, from $209/ha down to $108/ha, and •irrigation costs, from $394/ha down to approximately $305/ha, appear to exist. In total, differences of at least $300/ha saving can be made by moving from the conventional system to the preformed mound system (see Appendix 1 for more detail). As a result, all members of MIG have moved over to planting into preformed beds; however some members of MIG prefer 1.52m singles over duals on 2.0m centres. The group recognises that during the course of the project, several errors were made with the trial design; in particular there was no planting of the 1.52m conventional practice with the mound planted systems, no replication of treatments, and fertiliser rates were not the same in each treatment. This has been a great learning experience for the group, which is now better placed to conduct future on-farm research.