By Jasmine Hunt
Towering above the cane fields at Murray Upper, just south of Tully Township, is a contraption that has allowed sugarcane grower Peter Vecchio to save time and chemical use.
This contraption, also known as an over-row sprayer, is going a long way in assisting Peter to save money and precious time on his cane farms, scattered across the Tully region.
Built from the ground up by Peter and employee Kevin O’Kane, the spray rig has its base on a John Deere 6400 tractor, and is fully GPS automated, rate controlled and auto-steer.
In the Wet Tropics, the Australian Government’s Reef Rescue program is not only helping farmers to improve their land management practices so as to reduce sediment, chemical and nutrient runoff, but it is also reducing sediment loss in the clean-up of forestry blocks that were left almost completely destroyed by last year’s devastating cyclone.
Forestry Plantations Queensland (FPQ) Pty Ltd has been successful in acquiring a Water Quality Incentive Grant to minimise environmental impacts whilst replanting trees that were destroyed by Cyclone Yasi.
Third and fourth generation sugarcane farmers John and Phil Deguara began converting their Beaconsfield and Brightly farms to a Controlled Traffic System in 2003.
Reef Rescue helped the pair to finish modifying their equipment to suit the system, and purchase and install a Viper Pro Variable Rate Control Unit to improve the efficiency and accuracy of nutrient and chemical applications across the farms.
Reef Rescue is now 2 years old, and growers funded in the first year have had time to operate their new equipment and document the impact of the Reef Rescue investment. This documentation is important not only for the grower, but also enables others to see and recognise the potential benefits of making such a practice change on their properties.
To promote these changes to a broader audience Growcom has compiled a number of case studies which are available for viewing on Growcom’s website (www.growcom.com.au). The case studies provide the viewer with a short presentation outlining who and where the grower is, what their current practices are, recognition of changes required, new practices implemented, and production and environmental benefits.
By Kathy Cogo, NQ Dry Tropics
You probably do it in your backyard and even some cafes and restaurants do it. Peter Cundall does it. Composting – that dark, friable stuff that once started out as scraps and rubbish is the king of conditioners for soil.
“When I first started growing vegetables I was spraying them a lot and thought: ‘this is going to kill me and I don’t know about the poor beggar that’s going to have to eat it’. I thought there’s got to be a better way. People got by without these chemicals for many years before they came along. Maybe we’re going to have to get by without them again.”
Paul Le Feuvre grows 100 hectares of zucchinis and hundreds of mangoes in Giru, south of Townsville. He’s a passionate farmer, not scared of challenges, committed to doing the best he can do by the environment as long as he makes money. He walks around the farm with bare feet and blue shorts happily talking about how he grows food. Continue Reading…