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Innovators in Environmental Management in the Queensland Sugar Industry Malcolm K. Wegener School of Natural and Rural Systems Management The University.

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Presentation on theme: "Innovators in Environmental Management in the Queensland Sugar Industry Malcolm K. Wegener School of Natural and Rural Systems Management The University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Innovators in Environmental Management in the Queensland Sugar Industry Malcolm K. Wegener School of Natural and Rural Systems Management The University of Queensland

2 Innovators in environmental management in the Australian sugar industry Three case studies: Three case studies: –Ross Digman, Tully –Mario Porta, Ingham –Robert Quirk, Condong Development of artificial wetlands Development of artificial wetlands Introduction of green cane harvesting and trash blanketing and reduced nitrogen application Introduction of green cane harvesting and trash blanketing and reduced nitrogen application Economic principles Economic principles –How to analyse?

3 Case study 1: Ross Digman, Tully Developed first artificial lagoon on his property in 1990 Developed first artificial lagoon on his property in 1990 –Recreational fisherman –Observed destruction of wetlands from early stage development of Tully River Station for caneland –Recognised loss of valuable nursery areas for young fish –Wanted to start people thinking about destruction of wetlands –Produced and gave away 60 sets of documents and 300 videos Tully River tragedy Tully River tragedy Habitat in crisis Habitat in crisis –Helped financially local farmers who wanted to put in lagoons –Long involvement with Riversdale-Murray Valley Water Management Scheme

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6 Ross Digman case study Five artificial water bodies created to deal with runoff from his property Five artificial water bodies created to deal with runoff from his property –0.2 ha silt trap upstream of other lagoons –0.25 ha lagoon constructed in 1990 –Third lagoon, nearly 0.4 ha –Fourth lagoon, 0.28 ha –Landcare lagoon, 0.3 ha (on an adjacent property) –113 ha total area –95 ha assigned caneland –Planted 20 m strip of trees along Tully R. and another 3 ha block of trees on the property

7 Ross Digman case study :Landcare lagoon constructed in 1993 on Henry/Maingay properties $ :Landcare lagoon constructed in 1993 on Henry/Maingay properties $ –$3 500 (one-third of cost) contributed by RD –Landholders contribution Henry $3 000 Henry $3 000 Maingay $700 Maingay $700 –Landcare $1 100 –Recreational fishers contributed the balance

8 Ross Digman case study Objectives of Riversdale-Murray River Water Management Scheme Objectives of Riversdale-Murray River Water Management Scheme –Allocate SIIP funding for solving the flooding problems in the Lower Tully-Murray flood plain Local support to straighten and improve Murray R to carry more water from the flood plain Local support to straighten and improve Murray R to carry more water from the flood plain Videos produced by RD were able to focus attention away from straightening the river to more environmentally friendly works Videos produced by RD were able to focus attention away from straightening the river to more environmentally friendly works 35 lagoons constructed, with assistance from SIIP funding 35 lagoons constructed, with assistance from SIIP funding

9 Ross Digman case study Economic evaluation of wetlands Economic evaluation of wetlands RDs first wetland (0.25 ha) constructed in 1990 paid for itself in 3 years RDs first wetland (0.25 ha) constructed in 1990 paid for itself in 3 years –Soil from excavation spread over low-lying cane land –Extra 600 tonnes cane per year produced on land that never previously grew cane –At early-1990s prices, this was sufficient to pay for construction –RD did not construct the wetland for economic reasons –Other costs and risks associated with lagoon building

10 Mario Porta case study: Ingham canefarmer Mario Porta constructed their first wetland in soon after taking control of Burnside Ingham canefarmer Mario Porta constructed their first wetland in soon after taking control of Burnside cost $ cost $ Strong opposition from his own father Strong opposition from his own father Four more wetlands added over the past 8 years Four more wetlands added over the past 8 years –Home property, $ –Home property, $ (with $ assistance) –Large SIIP-funded wetland at Cordelia (family donated 2 ha of land) –Lagoon at Bambaroo, driest part of Ingham canegrowing area Total expenditure over $ on constructing wetlands Total expenditure over $ on constructing wetlands Further development on hold while sugar prices are so low Further development on hold while sugar prices are so low

11 Personal background Mario Porta started to manage family cane farm in 1995 when they acquired Burnside Mario Porta started to manage family cane farm in 1995 when they acquired Burnside –Home property, ha –Burnside, former cattle stud, bought 1995 –Cordelia, near coast –Bambaroo, km south of Ingham Total area managed, ha Total area managed, ha Cane production, > t, largest in Ingham. Also run cattle. Cane production, > t, largest in Ingham. Also run cattle.

12 Motivation? Desire to create economically viable and environmentally sustainable cane farm Desire to create economically viable and environmentally sustainable cane farm Influenced by many factors Influenced by many factors –Latter years at high school (unsustainable harvest of timber in Malaysia, greenhouse gas emissions, hole in ozone layer, etc) –Close neighbour (Allan Larsen) –Video produced by Ross Digman –Advisers in DNR&M, BSES –Catchment coordinator

13 Adverse attitudes in sugar industry to natural resource management Large expenditure on land clearing in the past Large expenditure on land clearing in the past –Inconsistent to start wanting to plant trees Most landholders cleared right up to creek banks Most landholders cleared right up to creek banks –Porta family left vegetation buffer along creeks on Cordelia farm when it was cleared –Strong opposition from Mario Porta snr to developing wetlands Eventual recognition of what Mario had created Eventual recognition of what Mario had created

14 Benefits from wetland development Personal satisfaction Personal satisfaction –Property looks better –Improved capital value in long-term Investment not recovered in short term Investment not recovered in short term –Better productivity from nearby, low-lying land –Value of trees in connecting waterways –Increased number of bird species –value of harvestable timber ignored

15 Changing attitude of growers Mario Porta started with a different outlook to most growers Mario Porta started with a different outlook to most growers –Decisions not motivated by short-term profits Many growers in Ingham are now thinking like him Many growers in Ingham are now thinking like him Most growers with typical t production could incorporate a water storage to act as silt trap and stop nutrients leaving the farm Most growers with typical t production could incorporate a water storage to act as silt trap and stop nutrients leaving the farm

16 Analytical approach to decision-making Alternative management options are usually available to solve most problems Alternative management options are usually available to solve most problems Adapt management to achieve acceptable economic and social outcomes Adapt management to achieve acceptable economic and social outcomes –Planting, Harvesting, nutrient management? –Analytical approach to problem solving Understand why opposition exists to current canegrowing practices Understand why opposition exists to current canegrowing practices Discuss problem with DNR&M staff, other parties Discuss problem with DNR&M staff, other parties Work pro-actively to solve problem, not reactively Work pro-actively to solve problem, not reactively

17 Case study 3: Robert Quirk Only grower in Condong mill area to practice green cane harvesting and trash blanketing Only grower in Condong mill area to practice green cane harvesting and trash blanketing –Opposition to trash blanketing too wet, too cold too wet, too cold Evidence to support this assumption? Evidence to support this assumption? RQ developed technique to sweep trash off cane rows RQ developed technique to sweep trash off cane rows –Expects to harvest 70% of farm green Still need to burn some paddocks Still need to burn some paddocks

18 Case study 3: Robert Quirk Reduced nutrient applications by 25% Reduced nutrient applications by 25% –4 bags per acre, N:P:K mix 32:2:10 –Reduced to 3 bags per acre, N:P:K 36:0:10 Nitrogen reduced, P eliminated, K reduced Nitrogen reduced, P eliminated, K reduced –Highest cane production ever in 2005 Less rain, more cane Less rain, more cane –Leaf analysis indicates P and K still higher than necessary for adequate nutrition

19 Case study 3: Robert Quirk Nitrogen fertiliser trial Nitrogen fertiliser trial –0, 0.5, 1, 2 bags per acre –Replicated strip trial –No difference in yield, or ccs –Highest yield from zero fertiliser treatment –Ratoon cane showing no lack of fertiliser at this stage Same N levels in each treatment (leaf samples) Same N levels in each treatment (leaf samples) –ANU monitoring N losses to atmosphere 0.9 kg /ha/day measured last year 0.9 kg /ha/day measured last year Fewer losses this year Fewer losses this year Increased losses after rain Increased losses after rain

20 Conclusions A number of innovative canegrowers are prepared to try new environmental management approaches A number of innovative canegrowers are prepared to try new environmental management approaches Good environmental management does not need to reduce farm income Good environmental management does not need to reduce farm income Robert Quirk: the more environmental I become, the better my economics are Robert Quirk: the more environmental I become, the better my economics are

21 Conclusions 2 Some canegrowers are prepared to undertake innovations in environmental management Some canegrowers are prepared to undertake innovations in environmental management –Do they evaluate these investments in economic terms or against other criteria? –Farmers can identify a range of economic benefits from environmental innovation Some private benefits, some private benefits Some private benefits, some private benefits –Economists need to understand the complex relationships that exist between profit and environmental improvement –Challenge for agricultural economists Help to identify sustainability measures for primary producers Help to identify sustainability measures for primary producers Triple-bottom-line indicators Triple-bottom-line indicators

22 Personal reflection Evolution of agricultural economists attention over past 40 years Evolution of agricultural economists attention over past 40 years –from farm management to resource economics Early 1960s emphasis on farm accounting Early 1960s emphasis on farm accounting –ACCRA code for farm accounting 2005 IASB accounting methods 2005 IASB accounting methods –What does this mean for farm profit? –How should we evaluate environmental innovations? What are best indicators of farm sustainability What are best indicators of farm sustainability –Environmental sustainability – nutrient balance, water? –Social sustainability – rural communities


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