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Sugar researchers crushing it: Water savings hit sweet spot for Queensland canegrowers

It’s one of Australia’s biggest and thirstiest crops, lapping up millions of litres of water every year.

Sugarcane growers in central and northern Queensland could soon be increasing their productivity and profitability thanks to researchers from the University of Southern Queensland.

After a bittersweet start to the year – with farmers batting drought and heavy rain – irrigation experts are teaming up with locals to help produce bigger yields.

It’s part of the Australian Government’s Smarter Irrigation for Profit (Phase 2) project, tackling some of Australia’s water issues.

University of Southern Queensland project lead Michael Scobie is encouraging anyone in the sugar industry looking to refine their skills to get involved.

He’s working with a range of experts to develop the skills and capacity of local extension and service providers which will ultimately help farmers produce more cane.

“As crushing season nears nearing its end, now is the perfect time for people to upskill,” Mr Scobie said.

“From consultants to extension officers, individuals work one-on-one with our researchers to develop their skills.

“Whether it’s assessing pumps and irrigation systems, developing new technologies or implementing better strategies to reduce water loss, it’ll mean delivering bigger profits for sugarcane growers.”

“The sugar industry is facing some difficult problems at the moment,” Mr Scobie said.

“Challenging weather conditions coupled with low sugar prices across the world has the potential to reduce productivity and profitability.

Improving irrigation and water management on the farm, is one key approach to making sure that the industry remains vibrant and viable.

There are around 3,000 canegrowers in Queensland with the industry estimated to be worth more than $2 billion dollars.

It’s hoped the new research partnership will deliver a sweeter outlook to the future of sugar.

Find out more about the Smarter Irrigation for Profit (Phase 2).

man in field
University of Southern Queensland project lead Michael Scobie is encouraging anyone in the sugar industry looking to refine their skills to get involved.