Cane to Creek Russell Mulgrave Growers and the Nitrogen Story

Cane to Creek farmer Lenny Parisi who won the Prince of Wales Environmental Leadership Reef Sustainability Award in 2019.

The Cane to Creek project worked with more than 30 Russell Mulgrave sugarcane growers to increase adoption of best nutrient management practices to improve water quality by piloting a grower adoption strategy. A combination of on-farm demonstrations, real-time water quality monitoring and analysis, one-on-one extension and group learning methods were used. The project was funded by the Queensland Government’s Reef Water Quality Program and delivered by Sugar Research Australia (SRA).

Over two years, 18 demonstration activities were undertaken to highlight on-farm opportunities for improving nutrient management in line with SIX EASY STEPS nutrient recommendations. A sub-catchment monitoring group was also established in the Fig Tree Creek area, and growers completed training in SIX EASY STEPS Putting Theory into Practice as well as Accounting for Legume Nitrogen.

To better understand some of the gains made during the SIX EASY STEPS workshops, a survey was undertaken with the growers involved. The survey found that:

  • Over 90% agree with the statement:
    “I now have a much better understanding about nutrient loss pathways and how to manage them”.
  • Over 95% agree with the statement:
    “I now have a better understanding on how to check the adequacy and efficiency of my nutrient/fertiliser applications”.

This highlights the focus of Cane to Creek in building grower literacy and independence to make sound choices in nutrient management.

Growers who had been involved in the Cane to Creek project were surveyed to gain an understanding of their perceptions around the relationship between sugarcane farming and water quality and their ability to influence this. The survey found the growers involved felt a strong sense of responsibility to help maintain and improve water quality in their local creeks and on the Reef. The growers also strongly agreed that the actions they undertake on-farm can influence water quality and that involvement in the Cane to Creek project helped them to understand the opportunities to improve water quality.

This brief video above highlights the benefits local sugarcane farmers gained from the project, including how much they appreciate the real time water quality monitoring and how that might influence their practice change.

Project awards

While this project was completed in 2019, Cane to Creek will continue in a revised and expanded form as Cane to Creek 2.0 with funding received from the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and staff support from SRA’s Adoption Unit.