“Cane changer” for growers

Innisfail cane and banana growers are working to improve the health of the Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef Minister Leeanne Enoch watches an on-farm water nitrate test being undertaken at a cane farm near Innisfail.

Great Barrier Reef Minister Leeanne Enoch watches an on-farm water nitrate test being undertaken at a cane farm near Innisfail.


Canegrowers in the Innisfail area are working to protect the reef.


INNISFAIL canegrowers are leading the way to protect the health of the Great Barrier Reef.

Two projects are currently under way to both strengthen the industry and improve water quality for runoff leading to the reef.

Queensland’s Minister for the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch today met with farmers in Innisfail to see firsthand the industry-led innovations.

Far North Queensland are leading from the front through the Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project (Wet Tropics MIP) and Cane Changer project, ​which is supported by the Queensland Government’s five-year $247 million investment into improving reef water quality.

Ms Enoch said the projects highlighted positive partnerships made between government, industry and farmers, and demonstrated the commitment and stewardship of farmers in the region.

“Wet Tropics MIP and Cane Changer are breaking new ground in how they’re helping farmers manage the sustainability of their enterprises, industry, and achieve accelerated water quality improvements for the Great Barrier Reef,” Ms Enoch said.

“The Wet Tropics MIP is using farmer-led ideas to test and trial fresh ideas, with a view to roll out these solutions to other reef catchments.

“Some innovative approaches include the opportunity for landholders to trial the Reef Credits scheme, which allows those who have implemented projects that reduce nitrogen, sediment or pesticide losses to earn and then sell Reef Credits to buyers, including government, industry and not-for-profit organisations.

“Meanwhile, Cane Changer is coming up with transformative ways to better understand and recognise the factors that influence the adoption of best management practices in the cane industry, and how these practices can bolster the resilience of the cane industry.”

Innisfail cane farmer and Canegrowers Queensland Director Joe Marano said the reason behind the programs’ success was their positive approach to working with farmers.

“They’ve listened to cane growers and recognise the positive changes we’re making on our farms, so we’ve been able to work collaboratively towards better outcomes for all,” Mr Marano said.

Terrain NRM Chief Executive Officer Carole Sweatman, who is is coordinating the Wet Tropics MIP, said the banana and cane industries had a long history of innovation.

“The project combines actions ranging from known solutions to things that are new or untested, like bioreactors. It’s drawing on the best local knowledge and available science to deliver solutions that are good for farmers and the reef,” she said.

“Cane and banana farmers have said for a long time that water quality is not just a farmer issue, and the Wet Tropics MIP works with all parts of the community to drive catchment-wide change.

“The project builds on the many water quality improvements already happening in the region. Significant work has also been undertaken in delivering a range of catchment repair improvements and tailored extension services.”

Doctor John Pickering, chief behavioural scientist at Behaviour Innovation, said Cane Changer was about recognising the hard work that cane growers are already doing on their farms.

“From speaking with over 400 cane growers over the past 18 months, it is very clear that cane growers want the best for the environment, and they want the best possible future for their families,” Dr Pickering said.

“Cane Changer is about working towards a better future for the industry and building on the history of successes to drive further innovation and change.”


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