Benchmarking Rural Industries' Practices and Productivity Performance and Review of Industries' Capacity to Change
The sugar industry's Central region production region includes Farleigh, Marian, Plane Creek, Pleystowe, Proserpine and Racecourse mill areas. In this region, sugar is produced on 144 986 hectares (1998) and is then sent to one of six mills for crushing.
The approximate location of sugar production within this region is outlined on the map below.
Sugar production statistics for this region in 1998 were:
- 11.4 million tonnes of sugar cane
- average CCS ranging between 11.77 in the Racecourse mill area and 12.35 in the Farleigh mill area
- 1.4 million tonnes of sugar
- 105 tonnes of sugar cane/hectare on average.
Over the six years to 1997, sugar cane production in this region has increased by 4.2 million tonnes with an increase in area of 21,980 hectares, as shown in the charts below.
In relation to land resources, sugar production from this region covers an area near 150,000 hectares. A dissection of the area assigned, area harvested and national percentage is presented in the table below.
|Region/mill area||Assigned area (ha)||Area harvested (ha)||% of Australian sugar area%|
Sugar is produced on a range of soils types and landforms in the region. Sugar is grown on areas of low slopes and broken topography and also on flatter alluvial areas. Some of these areas are adjacent to creeks and natural drainage lines.
In relation to water resources, the Central region receives 1,685 mm of rainfall on average each year, distributed across the months as shown in the graph below.
The temperature in this region varies from 10.2°C to 31.3°C in the as shown in the graph above and the average annual evaporation is 2,008 mm. These temperatures do not limit production levels.
The annual crop water use, effective rainfall and irrigation requirements for this region are: 1,490 mm annual crop water use, 630 mm effective rainfall, 860 mm irrigation requirement, resulting in a need for extensive supplementary irrigation.What environmental challenges face the sugar industry in the Central Region?
The main environmental challenges facing the sugar industry in this region as identified by the local extension officers are noxious weeds, soil erosion and water quality.
A CSIRO report entitled Australia's stocks of quality soils (2000) lists moderate soil acidity problems, weeds, erosion and the potential for soil structural decline as issues in this region.
The level of grower concern and percent of farms identified as being affected by these environmental issues (O'Grady and Christiansen, 2000) is illustrated in the graph below.
Two codes of practice and one set of best practice guidelines have been adopted by the sugar industry. These are:
- Sustainable Cane Growing in Queensland
- Fish Habitat Code of Practice
- Best Practice Guidelines for Acid Sulfate Soils.
For a description of the contents of these codes and guidelines, see the national sugar industrypage.
The level of adoption of various management practices outlined in these codes and guidelines has been assessed by BSES (2000).The table and graphs below summarise the adoption rates for this region in comparison with the overall industry adoption.
|Management practice||Industry adoption (%)||Regional adoption(%)|
|Farm plan exists||62||61|
|Reduced cultivation in last 10 years||73||83|
|Surface fertiliser application||30||50|
Other management practices adopted are summarised in the charts below.
Development of these and other practices is supported by research and development initiatives. Research into practices is being undertaken by the Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations, the Sugar Research and Development Corporation and the CRC for Sustainable Sugar Production. These programs include various aspects aimed at improving the environmental and productive sustainability of the industry.
Sugar produced in the central region is concentrated around Proserpine and Mackay. This location is affected by monsoonal influence and the Great Barrier Reef is located off shore. The environmental issues to be managed are erosion, water quality, soil quality and noxious weeds.
In response, the central region sugar industry has implemented:
- a range of trash management options to reduce erosion levels and to improve soil structure and health;
- fertiliser and herbicide use programs and land management research to reduce runoff contamination into surface water;
- weed eradication programs.
These programs, when implemented within the context of the sugar industry codes, guidelines and BMP's, aim to also address regional issues eg water quality.
The central region sugar industry is involved in wider NRM planning initiatives to overcome the wider environmental issues. These initiatives include involvement with landcare groups, participation in the preparation of catchment management plans are local authority planning initiatives.
How do these factors affect the future prospects of the sugar industry in the Central Region region?
Production levels in the central region are steadily increasing, however CCS is trending down. The region receives adequate water provided some areas have access to supplementary irrigation.
Property level environmental issues requiring management include noxious weed control, erosion control and soil quality improvement. Property owners interested in sustainable production have responsibilies to address these issues on farm. However, these issues also require catchment responses for management.
Cooperative and supportive mechanisms between regional landusers are needed and will need to be further researched in the future. The impact and processes involved in Barrier Reef impacts need to be determined on thorough research and responses desinged around that research. The potential conflicts between rural and urban users need to be planned and managed. Property related NRM issues of soil acidification and soil structure deliver need to be managed based or research. The institutional structure of the region and the industry enables many of these NRM to be managed.
In order to increase adoption rates of NRM practices, a continuation of existing initiatives involving a balance between educational support, incentive provision and regulatory mechanisms needs to be implemented. The region's institutional codes and guidelines provide a framework for self regulating intiative. The BSES provides the needed educational and extensions support. Incentives will require issue based responses.
Link to Map maker to make a map using this information.
Link to data available for download on "A spatially consistent sub-set of agricultural statistics (AgStats) data 1982/93 to 1996/97"
- Sugar Research and Development Corporation website
- Cooperative Research Centre for Sustainable Development website
- Canegrowers website
- Bureau of Sugar Experimental Research Stations
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