Development of an Educational Package for Canegrowers on Efficient Nutrient Management : Final report BSS204
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The aim of this project was to facilitate responsible nutrient management for the sugar industry by providing extension support in the form of a training course for canegrowers. This educational package will enable growers to develop crop management strategies by understanding and addressing nutrient loss, soil properties and crop nutrition, while at the same time, reduce offsite impacts to the environment. Three pilot soil fertility courses have been conducted. The first was conducted with Extension/Productivity Board staff in Mackay, the second with farmers in Ingham, and the third with researchers and agribusiness people in Townsville. Participants were asked to evaluate each pilot course. Overall, participants were satisfied with the content and quality of the short course. Each section in the course was evaluated and considered appropriate, with most people stating they had a better understanding of all topics covered. The soil test interpretation and fertiliser box calibration practicals were also considered useful. The majority of participants indicated that they were now able to calibrate their own fertiliser box. Many participants stated that they were more likely to take soil tests to better tailor their fertilising now that they knew how to interpret them. Much of the feedback was constructive and used to improve the course manual and presentation. Soil fertility courses will be conducted with farmers in all mill areas of Queensland and New South Wales in 2000 after extension specialists in each district have been trained to conduct the course. This course has been prepared to ensure that growers become more efficient users of nutrients and to prevent long-term environmental repercussions. Improved fertiliser use, balanced nutrition, reduced production costs and environmental awareness will be outcomes demonstrated by farmers as a result of attending this course. Fertilising needs fine-tuning and an educational package for cane growers on soil fertility and efficient nutrient management is one way to achieve a sustainable cane farming system.