Isis 20:20 Nutrient Management Planning Project

The Isis 20:20 Nutrient Management Planning Project worked with sugarcane growers to develop intensive nutrient management plans to improve water quality outcomes. Delivered by Isis Productivity Limited, the project provided high quality, tailored and intensive one-on-one agronomic services for Isis growers in 2019 and 2020.

Farmers talking leaning on ute

Project Officer Juliette Greenway chats with project participants Tony (left) and Mitch Chapman.

The team used a unique and integrated extension approach, firstly treating the project as an integral part of the company’s core business and not as a standalone service activity. The extension approach was critically important, involving a grower first delivery method and a non-linear, rolling engagement process with staggered entry points that took account of each grower’s specific needs.

The project team met growers where, when and in the way that suited them: at the kitchen table, in the shed, on the veranda, over the phone or internet, or over the back of a ute.

The project engaged 68 growers across 120 farms managing 7,608.6 hectares. A total of 102 nutrient management plans were developed and implemented.

Growers in the project gained an appreciation of their farm soil types, their specific nutrient management requirements, the importance of record keeping and the benefits of having this information coordinated in one place whether digitally via Google Earth and JotForms or paper based. This information was then used to guide their nutrient management planning decisions.

Social monitoring through this project found:

  • most landholders felt that changing their fertiliser management was easy to do on their property
  • most landholders felt that changing their fertiliser management was a positive thing to do on their farm
  • growers were motivated by improvements in profitability and production associated with changing their fertiliser management.

Growers made the following statements about their involvement in the project:

“It was useful bringing my soil test together with block history to see trends over time.”

“I love my digital plan. Now I don’t have to go home to look up records.”

“I now have all the info and plan at my fingertips rather than in my head.”

“Record keeping is more essential than what I thought.”

As a result of the project, growers made the following comments about their fertiliser use:

“We’re using heaps less fertiliser than we used to.”

“My plan made it easy to stop using [a] blanket approach to fertiliser application. We now apply what the soil needs.”

Some growers also noticed decreased costs saying:

“The planning process gave me the opportunity to also save some money.”

This project was funded through the Queensland Government’s Queensland Reef Water Quality Program.