Sugar Research Australia (SRA) is leading a major investment to improve upon the sugarcane industry’s crop nutrient management program, SIX EASY STEPS®, and to also make it more accessible for farmers and advisors.
The SIX EASY STEPS program has been developed to ensure that sugarcane growers across the industry are applying fertiliser and nutrients to optimise their productivity, profitability, and sustainability.
SRA Key Focus Area Leader for Nutrient Management, Dr Barry Salter, said that SIX EASY STEPS is a science-based nutrient management program that enables the adoption of best-practice nutrient management on-farm.
“It is acknowledged as industry best-practice for nutrient management to optimise productivity and profitability without adversely influencing soil fertility or causing off-farm effects,” Dr Salter said.
“SRA recognises the need to further improve the SIX EASY STEPS and to explore opportunities to refine recommendations where there is evidence that the crop has a reduced response to fertiliser nitrogen.
“As part of a new investment by SRA, the Queensland Department of Environment and Science and CANEGROWERS, and in collaboration with the University of Southern Queensland and Farmacist, we will develop specific decision support tools which will form part of a broader SIX EASY STEPS TOOLBOX.
“The TOOLBOX will contain practical guidance for growers to refine nutrient management practices based on evidence from industry research projects. These tools fit within steps five and six of the SIX EASY STEPS, and will assist growers and advisors to develop nutrient management plans that are specific to their farms. SRA is also creating a SIX EASY STEPS Advisory Committee to actively manage the SIX EASY STEPS program and specifically the recommendations within it.”
The new investment will deliver upon the following specific objectives:
- Package trial data, case studies and develop decision support tools for the refinement of nutrient rates for specific production system issues;
- Create a web platform for these tools with evidence to support decisions;
- Consult with advisors on the utility of the decision support tools; and
- Integrate the use of tools into relevant adoption programs and grower services.
This investment is the result of extensive work, particularly over the last five years, by CANEGROWERS and industry in bringing together divergent views, opinions, science, trials and research on nitrogen in the cane industry.
This has included CANEGROWERS, Government, SRA, productivity services organisations, universities and the private sector providing valuable input and effort into the development of this project. This TOOLBOX will be another tool to ensure growers can refine their crop nutrition, increase their production and reduce the impact to the environment and the Great Barrier Reef.