Assessment of NutriSmart, a new environmentally friendly fertiliser in the Herbert River sugar-growing region
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"In recent years Australian cane growers have sought to maintain viability and world competitiveness in an increasingly tougher export market environment by adopting new farming practises which are more profitable and sustainable” (www.canegrower.com.au). In addition the industry is confronting the ever increasing pressure of potential environmental issues, particularly with regards to nutrient losses and influence on sensitive ecosystems, such as the Great Barrier Reef Lagoon. There is a growing awareness and tremendous change in attitude among sugarcane growers in the Herbert River region about concerns for the environment and its preservation. Growers are becoming much more accepting of new strategies and innovations which may assist with future sustainability. It is claimed that NutriSmart (NS) is an active eco fertiliser that improves soil health and balance to achieve good crop production, with a long-term positive effect on the environment. NS provides growers with a softer option, whilst maintaining their yields and improving soil health. Results obtained have shown that NS when applied using an over-the-row application method depresses yield, however, 25%NS applications had a positive effect on CCS levels. This increase in sucrose level resulted in 25%NS treatment plots equalling gross margin results obtained from grower’s standard plots. Although NS plots experience a reduced crop yield, the increased CCS levels resulted in economic returns not significantly different to standard fertiliser plots.