Growers and harvester drivers invited to take part in 2018 harvesting demonstration trials

Date Posted

19 March, 2018

Posted by

Cathy Weis

Sugarcane growers and harvester operators across the industry are invited to see first-hand how they could avoid losing valuable sugar from mechanical harvesting by participating in real-world harvesting research demonstration trials.

Trials over many years have shown that there are potential losses of sugarcane and juice (sugar) from common harvester settings. In the 2017 season, similar results were obtained in the first phase of this project.

As part of a major integrated program to help optimise harvest efficiency, Sugar Research Australia is offering sugarcane harvesting groups (growers and contract harvesters) the chance to see this research for themselves, in their own conditions, and with their own machinery.

According to Project Leader, Mr Phil Patane, SRA is targeting about 10 percent of the harvest groups in each region for the coming 2018 harvest season.

These volunteer groups will collaborate to run a demonstration trial on one of the group’s farms and review the results to decide whether measures need to be taken to reduce losses.

“This project is designed to answer questions growers and harvester operators have about cane and juice loss with actual data and hard economics, specific to individual harvesting groups,” Mr Patane said. “It will provide groups with the information to help optimise harvesting and on-going support through facilitated meetings and access to information.”

SRA will run the trials to international scientific standards and will coordinate the activity with our milling members.

“This practical assistance from our milling member companies, as well as the enthusiastic support already coming from many industry stakeholders, is vital in rolling out this ambitious project,” Mr Patane said.

The project is looking for harvester groups to participate in collaborative trials and workshops to help reduce losses.

“In the 2018 season SRA is looking for about 60 groups to participate statewide,” Mr Patane said.

Tully grower Mr Chris Condon was an eager participant in the trials in 2017 because he wanted to examine his local harvesting conditions and practices, and then work with SRA to optimise his harvest.

“We had experienced harvesting trials before, but this new project offered the advantage of serious follow-up,” Mr Condon said.

“Sometimes in the past we would receive data from harvesting trials, but we were unsure what to do with that data. In this project, we are receiving the follow up to help us make changes.

“There are a lot of factors to work out, but now we’ve got hard data in our own conditions to base the discussion around.”

The trials will be facilitated by a local group that will assist in recruiting and selecting the participating harvesting groups and arranging the logistics of the trials with the mill.

Growers or harvester operators who would like to be involved are invited to contact Phil Patane on 0431 818 482.

The project is funded with assistance from SRA and the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Rural R&D for Profit Program.

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