Tableland growers show BMP fits all sizes

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Rajinder Singh, Claude Santucci and John Dixon represent very different farming operations – a large family-owned farm business, a smaller family farm and the Tableland mill owner MSF Sugar with its 2,750 hectares of cane farmland in the region. All are now accredited in the Smartcane BMP three core modules and received their certificates from local facilitator John Barbetti.

“BMP accreditation proves that a business is operating sustainability and responsibly meeting economic, social and environmental needs,” Rajinder explained.

He has 241 hectares under cane on a farm which drains west away from the Great Barrier Reef. “Reef regulations are not a driving force,” he said of his motivation to be accredited. “The benefits of BMP are much wider. Growers should rise to the challenge and prove beyond doubt that our industry is world class in both growing operations and environmental impacts.”

For Claude, a move by big sugar customers such as Coca Cola to give preference to sugar with sustainable production credentials was a motivator.

“Some of the people we sell sugar to now are demanding environmentally sustainable production methods and that will probably only get more intense as time progresses,” he said. “So I thought if this is the future, I will jump on the bandwagon early.”

Claude’s family produces around 11,000 tonnes of cane a year from two farms. “We’re in the Barron River catchment which all flows down into the Great Barrier Reef,” Claude said. “We have to accept our responsibilities to the environment. A voluntary system like BMP where the grower and industry have more say in how we manage it is better than the authorities telling us what to do and how to do it.”

Claude and Rajinder see the benefits of Smartcane BMP in their day to day farming operations. “Accurate farm input records are the heart of it and this data is key to making good business decisions,” said Rajinder who cuts 120 t/ha on his farm but has a goal of 140 t/ha.

MSF Sugar too has a target of improving yield from 200,000 tonnes or 87 t/ha this season to 250,000 tonnes by 2020. The company says that to achieve its business objectives it needs to improve in all areas and Smartcane BMP helps to prioritise decisions.

“For a business focused on maximising productivity and profitability, a BMP is the first essential step,” Rajinder said.
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