SRA Update

16 December 2014

By Neil Fisher, Chief Executive Officer, Sugar Research Australia

As this calendar year draws to a close the SRA team hasn’t slowed in pace.

In late November SRA hosted an Industry Training Update forum in Townsville attended by over 120 growers, researchers and extension providers to share research updates.  During the forum delegates heard about our proposed Adoption Strategy and provided ideas about new ways to promote research outcomes in the next year.  This strategy is still being reviewed and further feedback will be sought from SRA’s representative bodies in January 2015 before implementation occurs.

Yellow Canopy Syndrome remains a critical issue for the industry and SRA. This message was heard loud and clear during the Scientific Reference Panel meeting attended by chief investigators and researchers.  During the meeting researchers presented updates about YCS research progress and discussed plans to be delivered in 2015.

Chair of the panel Professor John Lovett, visited farms with YCS symptoms in the Burdekin region to meet with growers who shared YCS observations which was incredibly valuable.  I encourage growers to alert SRA or productivity service groups if they notice changes in the pattern or behaviour of YCS. Growers play a vital role in helping the industry learn and understand more about YCS.

Following the panel meeting, YCS research updates were shared with over 120 growers who attended an YCS forum in Mossman, Mulgrave, Ingham, Ayr, Proserpine or Mackay in early December.  For those of you who were not able to attend a forum you can still learn about YSC research progress from the YCS update newsletter distributed with SRA’s Cane Connections magazine this month.

Launch of High Yielding Cane booklet

On 10 December, the Minister for Agriculture the Hon. Barnaby Joyce and SRA Chairman, Mr Paul Wright AM visited Mackay to meet with cane growers and launch SRA’s High Yielding Cane booklet.

SRA has a pivotal role in contributing towards the industry goal of achieving 36 million tonnes of cane per annum by 2017.

The High Yielding Cane booklet links proven outcomes from research projects with practical tools for sugarcane growers to adopt on farm, to boost their productivity and increase crop yields.

The Minister said the High Yielding Cane booklet is a great example of how the industry and governments’ joint investment in research and development can lead to benefits on farm.

Yield variability within similar productivity zones can be significant, which shows that growers’ decisions are critical to the success of their crops and ultimately the success of their businesses. The booklet shows growers how yield can be improved by the management decisions made at each step throughout the crop production cycle.

The booklet highlights the cumulative impact of good management and the benefits that fallowing, crop variety selection, planting, nutrients and their application, can make to crop yield. It also helps growers to better manage weeds, pests and diseases.

Collectively if all crops can increase yield it is a win-win outcome for the industry – that’s why this booklet can be a valuable resource for growers to apply on farm. For example the booklet provides research evidence on how a well-managed fallow can result in increased yields of up to 40 per cent in the following crop. Or practical tips on how growers can save on irrigation costs by applying 85 per cent of a crop’s water requirements without significantly reducing yield.

The High Yielding Cane booklet has been distributed with SRA’s Cane Connections magazine this month and is available for downloaded from the SRA website

Thank you for your support

I would like to thank our members, delegates and levy payers and the industry representative bodies for supporting Sugar Research Australia during our first 18 months of operation and entrusting us to deliver better research, development and extension solutions on the farm and at the mill.

In the new year I will be providing you with an outline of SRA’s plans for 2015. SRA looks forward to working closely with our investors next year to ensure our programs remain relevant and of value to the industry.

joyce sra

Minister for Agriculture the Hon Barnaby Joyce and SRA Chairman Mr Paul Wright AM launch SRA’s High Yielding Cane booklet on 10 December in Mackay.