Sunny outlook for fallow crops

Sunflowers on the rise in North Queensland

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Mixed species fallow crops are starting to take off in Far North Queensland, with sunflowers becoming a popular addition to many cane farms.

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BRIGHT: Hannah OKane in her familys sunflower fallow crop near Tully. Photo: Briony Kopp.

BRIGHT: Hannah OKane in her familys sunflower fallow crop near Tully. Photo: Briony Kopp.

MIXED species fallow crops are starting to take off in Far North Queensland, with sunflowers becoming a popular addition to several cane farms.

Tully cane farmer Mick O'Kane this season planted out 80 acres with sunflowers and legumes as a mixed-species fallow crop to improve the health of his soil.

The result has stunned him.

"They've taken really well. They're awesome, just beautiful,'' Mr O'Kane said.

"We normally just plant soy beans and you always get a nice crop of cane after a good crop of beans.

"This year, we've planted four different species together after doing a soil health course with Terrain NRM.

"The cowpeas are climbing up the sunflowers."

Mr O'Kane said while the sunflowers were good for the soil, they were also good for the soul, with the blaze of bright yellow wowing family and friends.

Terrain NRM's Michael Waring said mixed species fallow crops were relatively new to the Far North but more growers were expressing at interest.

"Diversity is important when it comes to soil health,'' Mr Waring said.

"Different species bring different benefits and sometimes they balance out less favourable traits too.''

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