CANEGROWERS and Sugar Research Australia (SRA) are encouraging Queensland sugarcane farmers to take part in a series of 60 on-farm trials of enhanced efficiency fertilisers.
Dubbed EEF60, the project will run over three harvest seasons in a bid to identify the conditions under which enhanced efficiency fertilisers can increase grower profitability while reducing any fertiliser losses to the environment, particularly into waterways running to the Great Barrier Reef.
“This is a big ask and a big project — one of the biggest co-ordinated and independent trials of fertilisers ever undertaken in the sugar industry,” CANEGROWERS CEO Dan Galligan said.
“We will be working with SRA to scientifically evaluate these enhanced efficiency fertilisers which various manufacturers have developed.
“They have the potential to release nutrients more slowly than conventional fertilisers or stabilise them into a form that is less likely to flow to waterways, so the technology is exciting.
“However, they also come at a cost, so our growers need to verify that they won’t be compromising their businesses by making a switch.”
EEF60 trial sites, selected for a variety of soil and climatic conditions, will host controlled and replicated field trials.
“The project will run 30 trial sites in the Wet Tropics region, 15 in the Burdekin, 10 in the Central Region and 5 in the Southern Region,” Mr Galligan said.
“Growers who participate in EEF60 will have access to extension and agronomic support to develop a nutrient management plan and the results of the trial will allow them to make informed decisions in future seasons.”
The project is funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Environment and Energy (Reef Trust 4), and the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.
Growers interested in hosting a trial site can contact SRA agronomists Julian Connellan in the Wet Tropics region on 4056 4514 and Nick Hill on 4963 6807 in the Burdekin, Central and Southern districts. Expressions of interest should be submitted by Friday, 14 July.