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    Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef
    The Honourable Steven Miles

    Smartcane BMP benefits attract top level backing

    Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef
    The Honourable Steven Miles

    Wednesday, February 10, 2016

    Smartcane BMP benefits attract top level backing

    It was a meeting of minds on best management practice for cane growing today (Wednesday 10 February) when State Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles met with CANEGROWERS Queensland Chair Paul Schembri.

    The two met at Mr Schembri’s Farleigh cane farm where Dr Miles took the opportunity to congratulate the cane-growing identity on his work towards his “Smartcane BMP” accreditation.

    A cane farmer for 41 years, Mr Schembri operates three family cane farms with his brother in the Mackay region and is also director of CANEGROWERS Mackay and CANEGROWERS Queensland Policy Council.

    "“Paul is leading by example, working towards Smartcane BMP (Best Management Practice) accreditation along with his excellent stewardship as head of the Queensland sugar growing industry’s peak body,” Dr Miles said.

    “When it comes to cane farming and protecting the environment, Paul and I are of the same view – cane farming best management practice helps ensure industry productivity while at the same time deriving sustainability benefits that protect the Great Barrier Reef.”

    Dr Miles said the Queensland Government had allocated $5.85 million for the Smartcane BMP from 2014 to 2017.

    Mr Schembri said to date farmers on 1132 Queensland cane farms, covering around 190,000 hectares (or some 50 per cent of the state’s harvested area), were working their way towards completing the Smartcane BMP program, with 45 farms so far accredited.

    “Smartcane BMP helps cane growers with modules specifically tailored to improving soil health and nutrient management, irrigation and drainage management, and weed, pest and disease management.

    “Meeting the practices in these modules helps cane farmers enhance their profitability and productivity, as well as meet legislative requirements,” Mr Schembri said.

    Mr Schembri takes a different approach to collating the business records supporting BMP accreditation, using printed maps of his farms on top of which he records fertiliser and agricultural chemical application.

    This meets both the BMP’s record keeping requirements, and it makes it easy for him to see at a glance what was done - where - on his farm.

    After harvesting, he compares harvest results from each block with fertiliser and chemical application rates. This helps determine the most cost-effective application of fertiliser and chemicals for his farm while minimising run-off.

    Mr Schembri’s message for farmers was that there are many ways to keep records and Smartcane BMP recognises them all. 

    “They can be either on paper or electronic records, and various programs such as AgDat and the Smartcane BMP mobile app can assist with that.

    “Either way, it’s the fact that accurate records are kept and collated that is important and the Smartcane BMP program can accommodate whatever approach suits the individual farmer,” Mr Schembri said.

    Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert said the Queensland Government was committed to reducing nitrogen runoff by up to 80 per cent and reducing total suspended sediment runoff by up to 50 per cent in key Great Barrier Reef catchments by 2025.

    “Scientific evidence confirms that significant quantities of fertiliser and pesticides from sugar cane farms can enter reef waters.

    “The Queensland Government set up the Great Barrier Reef Water Science Taskforce to advise on the best ways to achieve water quality targets and the taskforce recognises the importance of voluntary programs like the Smartcane BMP in achieving these goals,’ she said.

    Member for Mirani Jim Pearce said the Palaszczuk Government recognised and applauded the many sugarcane producers who had adopted best management practices.

    “Through the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, we are funding and helping industry develop and roll out the voluntary program,’’ Mr Pearce said.

    “The Smartcane BMP helps growers assess their practices to determine if they are ‘below’, ‘at’, or ‘above’ industry standards, with key guidance on how industry standards can be reached,” he said.


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