This section covers many of the on-farm practices and procedures that are conducted as part of sugarcane farming, including harvesting, irrigation, and precision agriculture.

SRA invests in and conducts a range of research and adoption activities across these aspects of sugarcane farming.

See the full list of our current research investments including those related to farming systems and harvesting.


Cane production is affected by both harvesting and field issues which can impact on raw sugar quality and quantity. Both harvesting efficiency and crop presentation affect cane yield, cane quality and ratoonability (ratooning).

Harvesting Best Practice (HBP) guidelines

Research conducted into harvester performance has developed Harvesting Best Practice (HBP) guidelines to reduce cane loss, improve cane quality, and reduce stool damage.

The HBP guidelines also focus on the impact that crop presentation has on harvesting efficiency. Information available covers topics such as farming for efficient harvesting; the effect of extractor fanspeed on cane loss, crop yield, extraneous matter and CCS; harvester setup to reduce basecutter/chopper losses; and improving billet quality for planting.

With harvesting impacting on raw sugar quality and crop yields, a HBP approach will ensure the ongoing profitability and sustainability of the entire sugarcane industry.

Precision agriculture

Precision agriculture (PA) is a farm management technique that addresses the variability of the land and resulting variability in yield to improve farm productivity and profitability. PA can also help address variability in weed, pest and disease occurrence and moisture supply. In its current form, PA is often associated with technologies such as GPS, GIS and variable-rate applicators. The use of technology does not always automatically lead to PA but, in sugarcane production, technology is used for most PA practices.

Related Links


SPAA Precision Agriculture Australia is a non-profit membership-based group formed to promote the development and adoption of precision agriculture technologies.

Precision Agriculture Laboratory at the University of Sydney conducts precision agriculture science and training and their website includes a wealth of Educational Resources.

Precision Agriculture Manual (Grains Research and Development Corporation) provides a good introduction to precision agriculture, much of which can be applied to sugarcane.

Farmacist is an agronomic solutions provider that offers precision agriculture consulting for sugarcane.

Precision Agriculture Consulting is a consulting company offering advice, training and products associated with precision farming industries.


International Society of Precision Agriculture (ISPA) is a non-profit, professional scientific organisation working to advance the science of precision agriculture.

PrecisionAg is a website that provides a wealth of information about all things related to precision agriculture as well as a link to the PrecisionAg Institute, a research, education and advocacy group.

Equipment and Software

Many companies throughout Australia and the world provide precision agriculture equipment and software. Below is a list of those most commonly used in sugarcane production:

This information is provided for your interest. We do not endorse any of these organisations as outlined in our disclaimer.

Pathways to water quality improvement in the Myrtle Creek (Proserpine) sub-catchment

Pathways to water quality improvement in the Myrtle Creek sub-catchment is monitoring paddock-scale run-off water quality on four farms in the sub-catchment (Proserpine mill area). Funded by the Department of Environment and Science, each site compares a different management practice related to nutrient or herbicide management. The results support previous research and demonstration results linking practices such as:
• Timing application to avoid run-off for at least the first 20 days after application
• Incorporation of herbicides and nutrients with irrigation can assist in improving water quality.
• Less on, less off
The project aims to allow growers to look at water quality at the farm scale, with the opportunity to compare different practices they are interested in. Please note these are demonstration sites, not statistically analysed research trials.

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