By Kevin Borg, Plane Creek cane grower and Chairman CANEGROWERS Mackay
When the industry-developed and managed Smartcane BMP (Best Management Practice) program first came into operation, I knew it would be a great alternative for the regulations already in place.
I also knew that it would not be easy, nor was it meant to be. So getting started and amid some negative hype around the program, I was quite apprehensive.
However I do want the world to recognise that I am a sustainable and responsible operator and I want to be able to say I am a Smartcane BMP accredited grower. By having convincing evidence of Best Management Practice operations I will be able to immediately lay to rest any views that imply that as a cane grower I am an environmental vandal.
I signed up for one of the first Smartcane BMP group workshop which was informative and the facilitators and support staff were able to answer our questions. They also were able to show us how to navigate the website and explained that I could also access the necessary material in hard copy if I did not want to do the program online. I made the personal decision to persevere with the website option.
After the workshop I began to gather the evidence I would need to progress. I managed to get together the easy to find documentation but stumbled when I needed to produce chemical and nutrient management plans.
I had kept chemical and fertiliser records for Reef Regulations, but sourcing them was cumbersome and frustrating because they were all over the place. Considering carefully the consequences of not continuing I eventually re-motivated myself to enter it into the one place – not so difficult after all.
I familiarised myself with the AgDat information storage program after hearing about its function at the initial workshop. While some of my information was initially not compatible, this won’t be a problem in the future as I am now aware of the requirements for this system. Once I had gathered the evidence required I saved it all on to a USB stick (although it is not necessary to provide your information this way, as it can be delivered or sent as hard copy also).
My internet connection at home is not fast enough to download onto the Smartcane BMP website so I delivered the USB stick to CANEGROWERS Mackay staff and they uploaded my evidence.
I am now waiting to be audited in the three key modules, which involves a farm visit and confirmation of the records and practices I have recorded. I feel confident that I will have sufficient evidence of operations to be accredited, but I will have to await the audit to find out.
If I do not have all the required evidence and more is required, I will persevere. Already I know that I am a lot closer to compliance and Best Management Practice than when I first started. I feel more in control of my future and I know now how and where to keep my records and the necessity to keep them up-to-date.
If anyone is contemplating not signing on for Smartcane BMP, I urge you to please re-think this stance. The very first step in registering for Smartcane BMP takes a couple of minutes, and once that’s done you can take as long or as short a time as you need to achieve your accreditation.
While the next steps may be intense for some, you can be assured the future holds much more promise when you know that by maintaining your record keeping, you are showing your commitment to, and achieving, continuous sustainable Best Management Practice.