Growing the next crop of industry innovators and leaders

Date Posted

26 March, 2018

Posted by

Cathy Weis

Growers, millers, and innovators of the Australian sugarcane industry are gathering in Mackay this week for the NextGen StepUp Conference.

The biennial conference provides the opportunity for the young (and young at heart) to share, learn and explore ideas with a range of industry stakeholders.

The StepUp conference is an extension of the work of the NextGen program, which is building capacity and leadership in the future generations of the Australian sugarcane industry.

SRA CEO, Mr Neil Fisher, said that SRA was a proud sponsor of the StepUp conference and the NextGen program.

“SRA is committed to enhancing capability within the Australian sugarcane industry, and we have identified this requirement within our five-year Strategic Plan,” Mr Fisher said.

“The investment in NextGen is a means of delivering significant human capability development for the industry. Young farmers, researchers, and industry professionals are the future of our industry.

“NextGen is helping our industry people become future innovators to ensure a productive, profitable, and sustainable future for the Australian sugarcane industry.”

The 2018 StepUp conference is themed Transition and Innovation.

SRA is also supporting a group of NSW growers to attend the conference as part of its Travel and Learning Awards development program.

In addition, SRA will also provide research information at the conference through presenters Mr Phil Patane (harvesting efficiency demonstration trials), and Dr Danielle Skocaj (nitrogen management in the Wet Tropics).

Prof Ian O’Hara from the Queensland University of Technology is currently working on a major research project through SRA and will speak on new sources of revenue from sugarcane.

“SRA is proud to be a part of this innovative and forward-looking event that is contributing to a bright future for our industry,” Mr Fisher said.

NextGen Officer, Mr Gerard Puglisi, also encouraged conference participants to attend the Women in Agriculture event after the conference on March 28. Speakers include Dr Karen Joyce and Ms Fallon Drewett. More information is available at

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