Capability investment to drive research innovation for Australian sugarcane

Date Posted

26 April, 2019

Posted by

Cathy Weis

SRA, on behalf of its grower, miller and government stakeholders, is investing in sugarcane industry capability and innovation through two significant initiatives that have just been awarded to 2019 recipients.

These investments are occurring via the SRA Sugar Industry Research Awards and the SRA Postgraduate Research Scholarships, and will see the recipients undertake projects that will help deliver productivity, profitability and sustainability outcomes for growers and millers.
The projects include:
• Characterising nitrogen use efficiency in sugarcane (Postgraduate scholarship: Mrs Anoma Ranagalage, University of Queensland, Brisbane)
• New approaches to quantifying nitrogen fluxes in enhanced efficiency fertilisers (Postgraduate scholarship: Dr Aiden Chin, University of Queensland, Brisbane)
• Innovative techniques to coat the basecutter blades of harvesters to reduce wear (Researcher Award: Dr Christiane Schulz, University of South Australia, Adelaide)
• Developing a marker system to measure dosage of alleles for use as a selection tool in the sugarcane breeding program (Researcher Award: Dr Meredith McNeil, CSIRO, Canberra).
Dr Christiane Schulz with the University of South Australia is undertaking a Researcher Award project to look at extending the durability of basecutter blades on sugarcane harvesters.
Basecutter blades are a key component of the harvesting process and need to be replaced regularly as they wear out from being one of the first contact points with the sugarcane crop.
Dr Schulz said she would use state-of-the-art hard-facing processes to look at ways of increasing the wear-resistance and sharpness of basecutter blades.
“This will be the first time the state-of-the-art hard-facing processes, laser cladding and thermal spraying, are used  for improving basecutter blades in Australia,” she said. “If successful, it has the potential to improve efficiency, as well as reduce cane loss and damage to the stalk and stool.”
A range of potential coatings will be examined and tested and the results communicated back to industry and SRA.
SRA General Manager for the Research Funding Unit, Dr Harjeet Khanna, said these capability development programs were designed to encourage new talent and ideas to benefit the Australian industry.
“These programs help researchers undertake relatively small projects that can test novel ideas that could lead to further research activity or directly to productivity, profitability and sustainability outcomes for sugarcane growers and millers,” Dr Khanna said.

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