Considered an innovator in the industry, Marian cane farmer and award finalist Rodney Lamb has a history of adapting and trialling new equipment to increase environmental and economic benefits for growers. Through the Reef Rescue program Rod has been working with Mackay Productivity Services and local NRM Reef Catchments to adapt his inter row spray shields to only spray when there is a weed detected by a sensor nozzle, in what is known as a WeedSeeker. This adaptation has huge potential to reduce herbicide applied over cane properties and the knowledge gained through Rod’s work will be shared by the industry as a whole.
Rod has also been involved in the Paddock to Integrated Monitoring, Modelling and Reporting Program, providing the program with his land and labour for a paddock monitoring trial that has run since 2009. The trial began with two treatments comparing conventional and best management practices and has expanded to included two more treatments comparing banded and broadcast use of residual herbicides. These trials have been in important in improving local understanding of best practices sugarcane management and encouraging the grower community to take up improved practices.
“It is important to me as a farmer to know if we are doing the wrong thing, if that is the case I need to know how to change. The trials allow us to answer the questions we all have, what is the problem with what we are doing and what difference the changes will make,” he explained.
Rod has also utilised the Reef Rescue program to adopt a swathe of improved practices across his farm including moving to two metre row spacing on permanent beds with GPS guided controlled traffic on all operations. This has reduced compaction and increased retention of water, nutrient and chemicals on Rod’s property. Rod has also purchased an eight-row legume planter and low pressure overhead irrigation which is used to incorporate nutrients and chemicals to reduce run off wherever possible.
“I believe that having trials in our area are very important and was glad to asked to host one on my property,” said Rod.