Research Portfolio

Key Focus Area 1

Variety Development

For information on past and completed projects, please visit the SRA elibrary or contact the SRA Research Funding Unit.

Exploiting introgression for the development of productive and regionally adapted varieties for NSW

This project aims to explore sugarcane variety improvement opportunities available through introgression, in relation to two-year cropping, temperate cane growing conditions of NSW, and frost.

Leaf sucrose: the link to diseases such as YCS and enhancement of sugarcane productivity

Leaf yellowing in sugarcane is typical of many diseases that are linked to changes in sucrose metabolism. Photosynthesis and stomatal conductance are lower throughout the canopy of YCS-expressing plants and biomass production and sucrose yield is compromised. Disruption to plant metabolism in the upper canopy of crops occurs during peak growth periods well before symptoms of leaf yellowing is observed. There are several similarities between YCS and the slowdown in growth commonly referred to as the reduced growth phenomenon (RGP), which is also linked to leaf metabolism. Identification of the processes that control sugar levels in the leaves, the feedback mechanisms on leaf metabolism and a better understanding of the source sink relationship is a prerequisite for the management of YCS and potential identification of the causal agent or process. Additionally, such knowledge will also enable planning and execution of strategies to enhance sugarcane performance through conventional breeding and gene manipulation strategies.

Implementing and validating genomic selection in SRA breeding programs to accelerate improvements in yield, commercial cane sugar, and other key traits

This project aims to implement genomic selection in SRA's breeding program, to double the rate of genetic gain for TCH, CCS, by reducing the breeding cycle time, in order to produce more profitable varieties for growers. The objectives are to

  • Establish a reference population for genomic evaluations of a scale to enable accurate genomic evaluations
  • Develop/implement software in SRA's pipeline to produce genomic evaluations for breeding candidates
  • Determine the strategy with the largest cost benefit for implementing genomic selection in SRA's breeding program using computer simulation
  • Develop algorithms to integrate genomic selection with information genome wide association studies and QTL studies to achieve maximum genetic gain
  • Develop genomic prediction of clonal performance (with non-additive effects) to enable early identification of best varieties
  • Demonstrate effectiveness of genomic selection by validating with clones selected using genomic evaluation.

Validating root system traits for enhanced nutrient capture in challenging environments

Roots are one of the biggest consumers of energy within a sugarcane plant, yet information on their function and structure has, until recently, been limited because of the size of the plant and the opaque nature of the soil. These projects are building on recent research that has seen the research team gather practical information on sugarcane root systems and examine specific issues including anatomy, the structure, varietal differences, and the roots’ response to different stress situations.

Impact of stool architecture on ratooning: extending current trial to fourth ratoon to strengthen correlations

This project seeks to discover new methods to predict ratoon yields based on early crop yields or component plant traits. It is focused on measuring plant morphological traits that contribute to ratoon yield and could potentially be used as proxies for selecting varieties with superior ratoon performance.
The outcomes will result in more productive varieties with increased ratoon yields and less frequent plough-out and replant, resulting in net profit gains.

Genetic analysis and marker delivery for sugarcane breeding

This project seeks to address the integration of molecular markers into sugarcane breeding to help guide the selection of new varieties and increase the rate of genetic gain. New varieties are the major drivers of productivity in the Australian industry. The use of molecular markers in cultivar development would give breeders the ability to increase selection pressure for key traits by applying selection at stages of the breeding cycle when it is not possible/practical to use phenotyping.

NIR calibrations for fibre quality

Due to logistical constraints, fibre quality measurements (FQM) on new varieties have only been undertaken 2 years prior to release, and this has resulted in several new varieties being released with low fibre quality and corresponding low “millability”. This project aims to develop and validate new near infra-red (NIR) calibration models that will allow the use of existing SpectaCaneTM units to do FQM on shredded cane. This will allow the testing of all clones in the breeding program much earlier, and ensure that clones with unacceptable milling characteristics are not promoted to FAT trials and subsequently shortlisted for release as new varieties.

Validating high-throughput phenomics technologies for sugarcane clonal selection

This project builds on recent SRA-funded research which has introduced a drone-based high-throughput phenotyping platform for SRA. The current project aims to further optimise this technology and provide an indirect trait-based optimal selection index for repeatable assessment of sugarcane clonal performance in early stage selections. Improved efficiency in early stage selections will help contribute towards the goal of achieving the 2% annual genetic gain target set in the SRA Strategic Plan.

 

Key Focus Area 2

Soil health, nutrient management and sustainability

For information on past and completed projects, please visit the SRA elibrary or contact the SRA Research Funding Unit.

More Profit from Nitrogen

More Profit from Nitrogen (MPfN): enhancing the nitrogen use efficiency of intensive cropping and pasture systems is a four year partnership between Australia’s four major intensive users of nitrogenous fertilisers: cotton, dairy, sugar and horticulture. For each of these industries, nitrogen (N) is a significant input cost to farmers and a substantial contributor to environmental footprints. Collectively, the Program aims to bring about increased farm profitability and reduced environmental impact by increasing nitrogen use efficiency (NUE), resulting in a reduction of the amount of N required in producing each unit of product.

There are 10 projects being delivered under the umbrella of the MPfN Program involving thirty-one collaborating organisations. Research activities encompass both field and laboratory based work to explore ways to optimise NUE through:

  • Efficient irrigation practices
  • Managing N fertiliser with consideration of soil mineralisation factors
  • Enhanced Efficiency Fertilisers (EEFs)
  • Developing new N fertiliser products and optimising existing products through blending
  • Testing and developing industry N Best Management Practices (BMPs)

This project is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural R&D for Profit programme.

Find out more about the MPfN by visiting the program website here.

Specific research projects:

Improved nitrogen use efficiency through accounting for deep soil and mineralisable N supply, and deployment of enhanced efficiency fertilisers (EEF) to better match crop N demand

New technologies and managements: transforming nitrogen use efficiency in cane production

Smart blending of enhanced efficiency fertilisers to maximise sugarcane profitability

 

Complete nutrient management planning for cane farming (Funding provider: Queensland Government Department of Environment and Science)

The major objectives of this project are:

• Engage 90 farms over 2 years to influence practice change from current nitrogen levels used, to using SIX EASY STEPS level (C practice).
• Results will be promoted across the Burdekin to increase knowledge and confidence in SIX EASY STEPS methodology, enable the changing of social norms in the catchment as well as raising expectations the community has of its cane farmers (to follow SIX EASY STEPS)
• Both will contribute to improved water quality outcomes in the Burdekin catchment

Improved water quality outcomes from on-farm nitrogen management. (Funding provider: University of Queensland)

The major objectives of this project are:

• Establish two new small-plot experiments in second ratoon crops on a well-drained and poorly drained soil in the Tully mill area
• Measure biomass, yield and N uptake of second ratoon and third ratoon crops

• Evaluate the impact of different N input calculation methodology (DYP vs PUYP) on productivity, profitability and NUE
• Identify benefits of adopting the use of Enhanced Efficiency Fertilisers in the Wet Tropics

Cane farmer trials of enhanced efficiency fertiliser in the catchments of the Great Barrier Reef (EEF60) (Funding Provider: Commonwealth Department of Environment and Energy and Queensland Government Great Barrier Reef Innovation Fund (Reef Trust 4))

The major objectives of this project are:

• Conduct 60 robust, controlled and replicated trials per season (180 trial years of data) to assess nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) performance across regions
• Assess environmental losses (run-off, deep drainage) at 6 of the 60 sites
• Develop farm nutrient management plans with engaged growers to improve nutrient management
• Identify where Enhanced Efficiency Fertilisers (EEFs) have potential to improve NUE
• Provide information on growers perceptions on issues likely to affect EEF adoption

SIX EASY STEPS - continuing perspectives in time and space

The project aims to establish an 'umbrella-type' project that has the following major objectives:

  • Establish a mechanism to update/revise the SIX EASY STEPS knowledge base and guidelines (specifically N) when sound scientifically-based information becomes available from various R&D sources. This will be done on a yearly basis at the project's review, planning and consultative group workshops.
  • Link to several other current and planned projects to develop/establish sets of district-specific guideline tables that indicate when and how to adjust the baseline SIX EASY STEPS N guidelines away from 'normal' circumstances. This could include amendments for particular soil properties (updated N mineralization indices, sodic soils, etc), interaction between climatic conditions/edaphic factors (wet versus dry seasons and soil types), harvest seasons/dates (older versus younger ratoons, late versus early harvest, etc ), choice of fertiliser formulations (traditional versus EEFs), etc.
  • Provide specific N guidelines and NUE data from continuing or new field trials associated with aspects of temporal/spatial management options. This will relate specifically to EEFs, position in the landscape, seasonal differences and in-field variability (as a continuation of 2045/045).
  • Update/modernise the SIX EASY STEPS technology transfer mechanisms.

Measuring soil health, setting benchmarks and supporting practice change in the sugar industry

The aim of this project is to:

  1. Demonstrate the benefits of moving to improved farming systems on soil health, productivity and profitability a. Economic evaluation of long-term IFS sites and short term IFS transitioning sites b. Develop decision-based economic tools c. Measure changes in soil health under a range of farming practices
  2. Create a soil health knowledge platform and a network of extension and adoption officers with improved capability to transfer knowledge and promote farming system changes
    a. Repackage previous research findings and industry knowledge
    b. Develop district-specific extension plans and new extension products
    c. Establish demonstration sites
    d. Appoint Soil Health officers at HCPSL and BPS to drive practice change
    e. Appoint SRA adoption officers to support practice change
    f. Develop a program of advisor training
  3. Develop a soil health toolbox to measure soil health across a range of soil types and farming systems.
    a. Identify the best subset of soil chemical, physical, and biological indicators able to describe soil health and measure soil response to practice change b. Make this test commercially available
  4. Establish benchmarks for soil test interpretation and sub-regional benchmarking of soil indicators
  5. Conduct research to address the root system knowledge gap

Unravelling the impact of climate and harvest time on nitrogen fertiliser requirements

This project will improve fertiliser NUE in a profitable and sustainable manner without reducing productivity in the Herbert region by:

  1. Determining how N requirements vary according to seasonal climatic conditions for major soil types
  2. Determining how N requirements vary according to harvest time and sub-region
  3. Developing productivity performance groups which identify similar soils, sub-regional differences in climate and other critical agronomic/management factors influencing N fertiliser requirements to allow for soil type and/or location specific climate and late harvest effects
  4. Integrating project outcomes into SIX EASY STEPS to help make N guideline tables more district specific

Seeing is believing: managing soil variability, improving crop yield and minimising off-site impacts in sugarcane using digital soil mapping

The project will develop a cost effective digital soil mapping framework to provide farmers and advisors with tools to map, manage and monitor the variability in soil properties to improve cane yield and reduce off-site impacts. The research will use DUALEM and gamma-ray spectroscopy to map individual soil properties (e.g.clay, CEC, salinity), and ancillary data such as elevation and crop yield information to identify soil management zones that may be responsive to ameliorants like gypsum application or lime. Four case studies will be developed for the Herbert, Mossman, Proserpine and Burdekin regions demonstrating the impact of ‘causal” factors of soil variation that effect crop yield.

Establishing sugarcane farming systems to improve soil health

This project seeks to improve the issue of soil health.

In order to address these issues new practices that complement the modern farming system (green cane trash blanker, controlled traffic, fallow cropping and reduced tillage) need to be explored. These practices need to deliver an improvement to soil carbon and biological condition in a profitable sugarcane production system.

The project will assess whether improvements to sugarcane soil condition can be achieved through practical management practices that provide additional organic inputs, different types of organic matter and diversity in terms of root systems and associated biology.

Implementation of root system diagnostics to deliver a field-based measure for root health

Better knowledge of root health through delivery of a field measurement tool will contribute to increased productivity and sustainability by providing practical information to support adoption of improved farming practices.

The Soil Health program aims to increase adoption of best practice using a toolbox of positive change indicators to demonstrate and monitor progress.

Developing healthy root systems is now recognised in many crops as essential to closing the yield gap. Root health is known to respond to soil conditions and can therefore be a useful barometer for soil health.

Australian sugar industry soil health benchmarking in the Central region of Qld - increasing profit and transforming soil health practices through cooperative industry research, extension and adoption

Australian sugarcane industry soil health benchmarking in the Wet Tropics region of QLD - increasing profit and transforming soil health practices through cooperative industry research, extension and adoption

This project is an industry partnership of the Wet Tropics cane growing region of Queensland. Over two years, ten Paired Sites will be established across three mill areas to determine the soil health, root health and business impact of transitioning to an Improved Farming System (IFS). Long-term IFS sites, of at least ten years, will be matched with near-by traditionally farmed sites. Physical, chemical and biological soil parameters will be measured, along with root development testing, to determine variation between the two sites and therefore the long-term impact of implementing IFS practices. This work will assist the industry to determine the best set of soil health indicators for this region.

Key Focus Area 3

Pest, disease and weed management

For information on past and completed projects, please visit the SRA elibrary or contact the SRA Research Funding Unit.

Solving yellow canopy syndrome (YCS)

The project is focused around five key areas:

  1. Is YCS caused by a biotic and/or abiotic factor?
  2. Which environmental factors and mechanisms drive/ameliorate expression of symptoms?
  3. How widespread is YCS in each district?
  4. What is the impact of YCS on the sugar industry?
  5. Exploring management options once the cause is known.

Soldier fly management

The major objectives of this project are to undertake research activities to identify management solutions for soldier fly in the southern and central regions. These include the assessment of insecticides and varietal tolerance.

Identifying new-generation insecticides for canegrub control as contingency for loss of amenity with the existing product

More than half of Australia’s cane fields are at risk of infestation from canegrubs which can reduce both yield and the number of ratoons obtained from a crop. Despite this risk, Imidacloprid is the only insecticide currently used to manage canegrubs. The reliance on a single active ingredient to manage this important pest is a high risk to the Australian sugar industry for a number of reasons. These include the potential for insecticide resistance, enhanced degradation or regulatory restriction on environmental grounds all of which could leave the industry without a viable method of canegrub control. To mitigate this risk, this project is working with a range of agricultural chemical companies to screen new insecticides with the view towards developing further chemical options to control these important insect pests.

You can’t manage what you can’t identify: Managing threats from exotic moth borers through accurate identification

Sugarcane moth borers that pose a serious threat to the Australian sugar industry exist to the immediate north of Australia. Despite their damage potential, the taxonomic identity and geographical distribution of several species remain largely unresolved. This project aims to deploy a 'Next-Gen' sequencing approach on selected borer species from neighbouring countries. Further species confirmation will be conducted via morphological examination of specimens of adult borers. This will assist in resolving several taxonomic ambiguities and will lead to developing reliable phylogenetic trees. All Incursion Management Plans will be updated according to project findings. This project will help us recognise geographical distribution of key exotic borers and will improve our Emergency Response in case an incursion is detected in Australia.

Investigation of biotic causes of yellow canopy syndrome

The overarching objective of this project is to establish whether a biotic agent causes YCS, and if so, to determine the identity of this agent. To address these research questions, several lines of experimentation will be pursued in order:

  • To investigate whether symptoms of YCS are suppressed by applications of selective antimicrobial agents such as antibiotics, fungicides and antiviral compounds.
  • To search for evidence of pathogen infection using a variety of diagnostic methods such as electron microscopy, microbial culturing, and DNA sequencing.
  • To develop diagnostic methods for YCS.
  • To better understand the basis of pathogenicity.
  • Keeping chemicals in their place - in the field

    This project will specifically examine whether off-site movement of chemicals can be managed using a range of tools and techniques including adjuvants, formulation, placement and application methodology.

    Cane to creek: Russell Mulgrave growers and the nitrogen story (Funding provider: Queensland Government Department of Environment and Science)

    The major objectives of this project are to:
    • Improve understanding of water quality issues relating to nitrogen in the Russell Mulgrave catchment
    • Improve knowledge and capacity among growers to make changes to better match crop nutrition and management to crop needs
    • Improve capacity of wet tropics extension staff to understand and incorporate behavioural science strategies into their work
    • Monitor water quality in Figtree Creek sub catchment and on farm demonstrations to help growers understand impact of sugarcane on water quality

    • Assist growers to make practice change to improve nutrient management in the Russell Mulgrave catchment.

    Feeding behaviour of Soldier fly

    The major objectives of this project are to investigate the larval feeding behaviour of I. rubriceps on sugarcane to improve the understanding of how the pest affects its host plant. The research will also investigate the species composition of soldier fly populations and examine the possibility that species in addition to I. rubriceps are causing damage.

    Modern diagnostics for a safer Australian Sugar Industry

    The major objectives of this project are:

    • To modernise current diagnostics for pathogens
    • To explore and prepare a NGS toolkit for new disease threats
    • To update molecular and morphological diagnostics for exotic moth borer threats, conduct a rigorous species delimitation analyses, map their geographic distribution in relation to proximity to Australia and update Sugar Research Australia dossiers on exotic moth borers.

    Development of commercial molecular biological assays for improved sugarcane soil health and productivity

    Moth Borers – how are we going to manage them when they arrive?

    Ratoon stunting disease detection at the sugar factory

    Development for an improved commercial assay for ratoon stunting disease (RSD)

    The project seeks to research and extend a new RSD assay to the sugarcane industry based on a leaf sheath biopsy, coupled with a sensitive molecular test (qPCR).

    The aim will be to adapt the test to commercial conditions, providing a more sensitive RSD assay technology ready for application in the SRA RSD assay laboratory.

    The project will also address field sampling techniques in order to minimise the chance of cross contamination, reduce labour inputs while maximising the probability of RSD detection in commercial crops. Refined leaf sheath sample extraction techniques and equipment may be an outcome.

    It is likely that such an assay will highlight to a greater extent the role of RSD in limiting yield in the Australian sugarcane industry.

    Key Focus Area 4

    Farming systems and harvesting

    For information on past and completed projects, please visit the SRA elibrary or contact the SRA Research Funding Unit.

    Assessment of new management strategies for marginal soils

    Sugarcane grown on marginal soils has low yield potential. Marginal soils generally have low fertility, poor internal drainage, poor structure, low water holding capacity, low organic matter levels and constraints at depth such as sodicity. The project is investigating whether the placement of organic ameliorants (mill by-products, compost) at depth in these soils will improve soil condition and sugarcane yields. The major objectives are to:

    • Determine whether the placement of soil ameliorants at depth (40 cm) increases sugarcane yield on marginal soils;
    • Determine changes in soil properties associated with placement of ameliorants at depth and those responsible for any yield increase;
    • Assess the longevity of any treatment effects by monitoring plant and ratoon crops; and
    • Make an economic assessment of the cost of placing ameliorants at depth and likely impact on grower profitability.

    Cane farmer trials of enhanced efficiency fertiliser in the catchments of the Great Barrier Reef

    This project is designed to identify whether Enhanced Efficiency Fertilisers (EEFs) can provide a significant increase in nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) and reduction in nitrogen losses, resulting in a more profitable farming business.
    The project will include 60 controlled and replicated field trials, conducted over 3 seasons, including 30 in the wet tropics, 15 in the Burdekin, 10 in the Central and 5 in the Southern regions.
    These trials will provide information on the effect of EEFs in terms of TCH, CCS, NUE and their effect on grower profitability. Environmental losses (run‐off and deep drainage) will be assessed at 6 of the 60 sites.

    Understanding interactions between basecutters and other forward-feed components with the cane-stalk, and determining practical strategies to minimise damage as harvester speed increases

    This project is looking at the front end of sugarcane harvesters to see if their components can be better matched to ground speed.
    The idea is simple. Currently, on factory-standard machines, the spirals, basecutter and knockdown and fin rollers are not specifically coordinated with the forward speed of the harvester.
    All of these components play a crucial role in impacting quality of the cane supply, sugar loss, and ratoons, with previous research suggesting there is significant damage occurring even before the cane reaches the basecutters.
    The research is asking the question: can the front end be improved?
    As part of that question, Norris ECT is working with QUT on a project that is part of the Rural R&D for Profit project, Enhancing the sugar industry value chain by addressing mechanical harvest losses, which is funded by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, SRA and QUT.

    Southern Sugar Solutions

    This project's specific research direction will be set on an annual basis by the project steering committee. The steering committee will be made up of growers, advisors and agronomists from the Maryborough, Childers and Bundaberg sugar factory cane supply districts. In the initial year two sugarcane trials will be established on sites that were initiated under the GRDC phase to determine treatment effect on the subsequent sugarcane cycle (plant and ratoon crops). In the following years of the project the steering committee will select one more GRDC trial site to be monitored through the sugarcane cycle. The trials will be showcased to the wider growing community at an annual field day event. The inclusion of growers, advisors and agronomists in the research process, together with the annual field day event is expected to improve knowledge transfer and adoption; thereby improving grower profitability.

    Improved irrigation system selection and operation for increased sugarcane productivity and profitability

    Irrigation management is critical to the profitability and economic sustainability of Australia’s 166,000 hectares of irrigated sugarcane. The link between water and crop productivity is more direct and more predictable than for other environmental variables.

    This projects will significantly improve irrigation decisions currently made by cane producers.

    This project seeks to :

    • Improve irrigation productivity and profitability in the sugar industry by establishing seven local “innovation hubs” across the main irrigation regions.
    • Increase adoption of existing knowledge and use of information and tools through week -long training and capacity building programs targeted at irrigators, advisors and service providers in each region with between program training and technical support.
    • Lift the capability of growers and advisors through a program of irrigation system data collection, analysis, benchmarking, discussion, reflection and evaluation.
    • Develop resources to support ongoing technical and profitable irrigation decision making, though development of case studies, information sheets, a handbook and ready-reckoner tools to support irrigation system selection, design and operation

    Harvester losses assessment by real-time Machine Vision Systems

    This project will develop a novel proof-of concept Machine Vision System for real-time estimation of cane losses during harvesting. This will be based on direct imaging to detect billet particles and juice that falls onto the trash blanket. With such a system, the harvester operator can potentially adjust harvester operational parameters and amount of loss in response to real-time conditions, thereby minimising sugar losses prior to milling.

    Smarter Irrigation for Profit - Phase 2

    Enhancing the sugar industry value chain by addressing mechanical harvest losses through research, technology and adoption

    This project established under the Rural R&D For Profit Program will improve sugar industry performance by undertaking a value-chain approach to the issue of cane harvesting, one of the largest industry problems. Specifically, the project will invest in extensive trial work to validate industry opinions, value chain modelling and economic analysis to quantify the problem, mechanical harvesting R&D-based modifications and new technology to improve in-field performance, software tools to improve farm and block specific harvesting practices, and a concerted adoption program to change industry beliefs and begin a process of substantive practice change.

    Key Focus Area 5

    Milling efficiency and technology

    For information on past and completed projects, please visit the SRA elibrary or contact the SRA Research Funding Unit.

    Investigation into modifying pan boiling techniques to improve sugar quality

    Online analysis systems to measure the available nutrients in mill mud

    By the end of the project an online NIR spectroscopic system will be developed to measure the availability and mobility of key nutrients in mill mud and ash mixtures as they leave the mill. This will be achieved by

    • Development of laboratory methods for measuring availability and mobility of key nutrients and carbon in mill by-products, and
    • Development of an online NIR spectroscopic analysis system suited to the analysis of mill mud and ash.

    Reducing boiler maintenance costs and deferring capital expenditure through improved technology

    Boiler tube wear and corrosion costs the industry about $5 million a year in repairs, stops and inefficient operation. This project aims to reduce boiler maintenance costs and defer capital expenditure through improved technology by identifying coatings that provide better wear performance than tube shields and extend the life of convection banks and that can be applied easily, applied on the internal surface of airheater tubes to prevent corrosion and extend the life of airheater units, and are readily available from commercial suppliers and installers.

    Evaporator liquor brix sensor

    The objective of this project is to test if Ultrasonic Time of Flight devices can operate successfully across the full range of (sugar) cane juice and liquor products, chemicals and water, which are processed through mill evaporators. It will evaluate the impact of fouling on the instrument sensor between fortnightly evaporator cleaning cycles, identify the introduction of bias, drift or loss of sensitivity and determine instrument recovery from these conditions. The team will test the hypothesis that Brix can be reliably measured in the range 20 to 80Bx (and establish lower and upper limits) through normal operation and staged calibration experiments including adverse conditions outside the normal operating envelope (down to 0 brix). On successful completion of this project, the Australian industry will be in a position to determine if Ultrasonic Time of Flight technology is suitable for adoption in cane sugar mills or refineries as an alternative to conductivity, brix towers, microwave and in line refractometers for the purposes of evaporator product density measurement and control.  ProMtec will also be in a position to use this data to reinforce or support the suitability of TOF technology for this purpose.

    Managing aspects of raw sugar quality in the Australian sugar industry – Part II

    Investigations to mitigate the effects of sucrose degradation and acid formation in factory evaporators on sugar recovery and quality, corrosion and effluent loadings

    This project will determine the effects of sucrose degradation and acid formation in factory evaporators on sugar recovery, corrosion and effluent loadings and develop strategies to mitigate these issues.

    Strategies to minimise impacts of processing existing soft cane varieties, and industry cost/benefit analysis

    In recent years a number of new varieties have come through the breeding program that are soft enough to cause problems when milling. This project will identify the best strategies to process these soft canes in the factory. Some soft cane varieties have such high sugar yield that there could be a high financial return to the industry if a cost-effective way to manage them in the factory can be found.

     

    Australian sugar industry training - development of training factory modules - Phase 2

    This project will extend the number of on-line training courses available for operator training in Australian sugar factories. The new courses, which will be mapped to the national competencies, will include juice clarification (covering primary and secondary heating, liming, flocculation, flashing and clarification), mud filtration, evaporation, evaporator cleaning and crystallisation.

    Evaluate the performance of the falling film tube evaporator at Bingera Mill

    Evaluate the suitability of the fixed element crystalliser for widespread adoption in Australian sugar factories

    Reducing surging in shredders

    Key Focus Area 6

    Product diversification and value addition

    For information on past and completed projects, please visit the SRA elibrary or contact the SRA Research Funding Unit.

    A profitable future for Australian agriculture: biorefineries for higher-value animal feeds, chemicals and fuels

    The emerging global bioeconomy is creating new opportunities for agricultural producers while underpinning the viability of existing crop products and supply chains. This cross-sectoral project established under the Rural R&D For Profit Program will engage Australia’s leading researchers in this field to develop the technologies needed to convert Australian agricultural and forestry feedstocks into new value-added animal feeds, chemicals, and advanced fuels. The project will establish profitable bioproduct opportunities for Australian primary producers and other participants in the sugar, cotton, forestry, and animal feed industries, while creating opportunities for those same industries to reduce input costs, such as through lower cost animal feeds and fuels.

    Biorefineries for Profit - Phase 2

    Key Focus Area 7

    Knowledge and technology transfer and adoption

    For information on past and completed projects, please visit the SRA elibrary or contact the SRA Research Funding Unit.

    Optimising productivity, variety recommendations and mill operations through analysis of mill data

    This project will objectively use mill data to design strategic adoption programs to optimise current farm management plans. Its activities will be to:

    • Automate the data transfer, analysis and reporting of mill data to aid in industry decision making.
    • Identify key drivers of profitability for both growers and millers in additional regions to the Herbert (pilot study) by using analyses of factors affecting mill productivity and cane and sugar quality.
    • Enable the new features such as automated individualised whole farm planning, variety performance by soil type and sub-district and analysis of variety performance across years for the Decision Support System, QCANESelect, developed in the pilot study to optimise variety recommendations in all regions as input data become available.
    • Promote the new features of QCANESelect to gain greater adoption in all regions.
    • Using methods developed in pilot study, refine the ratooning index based on productivity groupings to predict and rate ratooning performance of varieties to tailor variety recommendations.
    • Develop a decision support tool to predict varietal composition and long-term sugar and cane quality parameters to allow mills to plan and implement factory changes that might be required for processing the crop expected in the future.

    Productivity improvements through energy innovation in the Australian sugar industry

    The project will have the following objectives;

    1. Provide analysis and suggestions to the SRA adoption team to improve output per kw of electricity (or litre of diesel) in production systems from when results become available to the end of the project term in year 3.
    2. As incorporating renewable technology is early stage, present an economically viable business case to industry with the view to a small number of farmer adoption prior to the end of term.
    3. 60 per cent of growers are made aware of available options to improve energy efficiency and incorporate renewable energy or battery technology into their production systems at the end of year 3.
    4. SRA adoption team experience increased capacity on the use of innovative energy efficiency measure at the end of the project term.

    Pathways to water quality improvements in the Myrtle Creek sub catchment (Funding provider: Queensland Government Department of Environment and Science)

    The project contributes to Reef Plan objectives to reduce nitrogen run-off by 80%, and achieve at least 60% reduction in pesticides, by 2025. Specifically, the project will contribute towards achieving the 70% reduction of dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) and in meeting the 99% species protection threshold for pesticides, in the Proserpine catchment.

    Key Focus Area 8

    Collaboration and capability development

    For information on past and completed projects, please visit the SRA elibrary or contact the SRA Research Funding Unit.

    Mesostigmatid mites as predators of nematodes in sugarcane soils: occurrence, ecology, food preferences, and biocontrol

    Plant growth promoting rhizobacteria for Australian sugarcane - Bridging the gap from simple systems to engineered microbiomes

    Combining controlled release and nitrification inhibitor properties to deliver improved fertiliser nitrogen use efficiency in high risk environments

    Development and modelling of novel controlled release fertilisers for improved nutrient delivery efficiency

    Re-evaluating the biology of the sugarcane root system

    Microwave sensors for sugarcane sugar analysis

    New approaches to quantifying nitrogen fluxes in enhanced efficiency fertilisers in Australian sugarcane soils

    Characterising nitrogen use efficiency in sugarcane

    Developing a marker system to measure dosage of alleles for use as a selection tool in the sugarcane breeding program