Group of seven people in high-viz clothing posing at a red tractor
The Coastal Farming Systems team with new tractor used for precision agriculture

The Coastal Farming Systems team works with sugarcane growers and industry to:

  • promote modern farming systems that improve productivity and reef water quality
  • build capacity within the farming community
  • show growers, through trials and demonstrations, how productivity can be improved
  • deliver on-ground improvements through research, development and extension.

We are located in the major sugar cane regions in Queensland and well positioned to:

  • drive improved practice change
  • investigate local challenges
  • showcase future practice change adoptions.

We work with all farm sizes, from small through to large operations.

Our activities

The project looks at sugarcane farming as a farming system and provides a wide range of advice on how to increase productivity and input use efficiency (IUE).

Working directly with individual growers, as well as the wider industry, our activities include:

  • using mapping to identify poor performing zones across the farm
  • demonstrating improved farming systems through on-ground works and trials
  • field days and information sessions across all catchments
  • pesticide application workshops
  • sharing industry knowledge and updated resources
  • capacity building that supports the adoption of improved practices
  • economic cost-benefit assessment and case studies (through partnership with our economists)
  • evaluation of new techniques.

What we’ve delivered so far

We have:

  • worked collaboratively with individual growers and organisations such as SRA, Canegrowers, millers, productivity boards, NRM groups and resellers, to enhance understanding about the benefits of adopting improved practices across a sugarcane farming system
  • delivered district-specific services applicable to local farming systems and programs that improve soil health
  • advised on pesticide and nutrient applications
  • provided information on stackable credit opportunities
  • built capacity and partnerships with growers and organisations to showcase practice change options.

What’s next?

Demonstration sites

The project will develop a range of demonstration sites showcasing existing advanced-practice and precision-agriculture (PA) options such as:

  • yield variability mapping
  • controlled traffic
  • minimum tillage
  • stool zipper
  • dual herbicide sprayers.

Through yield and nutrient optimisation, these improved practices and technologies can improve:

  • productivity
  • profitability
  • water quality outcomes.

The demonstration sites also help to increase understanding of yield potential, environmental outcomes and profitability.

Tools to address yield constraints and input use efficiency

The project team is working to develop specific tools to address yield constraints and input use efficiency (IUE) strategies, including:

  • nutrient recommendations based on a zonal approach
  • soil-improvement products.

These new tools and strategies enable industry to improve grower profitability while deploying current technologies such as:

  • remote sensing
  • variable-rate fertiliser application
  • soil and drainage/weed mapping.

Environmental outcomes

The project generates environmental outcomes including improvements to reef water quality and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Find out more

Last updated: 25 Jul 2023