Optimising productivity and variety recommendations through analysis of mill data : ASSCT peer reviewed paper
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Production peaked in the Herbert River mills in 2005 but since then productivity has declined. Analysis of mill data in the Herbert has successfully identified groups of farms with similar productivity over time and the major factors associated with these groupings. The major finding of the study was that those growers who have adopted new farming systems had significantly higher productivity than those who use traditional practices. The impact of the Pachymetra resistance of previous varieties on yield of the current crop was also significant, suggesting this may be a major factor contributing to poor ratooning in the Herbert. In the small farm size groups, low and high performing growers had similar levels of % plant, % young crops, % old crops and % old varieties. However, the low and high performing groups varied significantly in terms of new varieties, suggesting that the small farm size low performing group were not adopting the new, more productive varieties to the same extent as the small farm size high performing group. Manager’s age was also an important factor associated with cane yields. Growers who regularly (five or six years out of six) obtained clean seed had more than 10% higher yields than growers who never or infrequently obtained clean seed and greater than 6% higher yields than growers who only obtained clean seed in three or four years out of six. Results from this research has allowed the Herbert Cane Productivity Services Limited (HCPSL) to design targeted extension strategies with the region. This will result in better variety recommendations and increase productivity.