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The GameChanger project has developed and trialled innovative management practices in the Mackay Whitsunday, NQ Dry Tropics and Terrain Natural Resource Management (NRM) regions, with a focus on the use of precision agriculture technologies and advanced planning to provide opportunities for cane farming to be more economically and environmentally sustainable.

GameChanger management practices are an extension of Project Catalyst activities, where technologies and techniques are generally at a higher level than the best management practices identified in the regional Sugarcane Management Practice ABCD Frameworks.

Growers in the GameChanger programme are making significant advancements in improving their farming operations as a result of their participation in the project. More importantly, growers external to the programme are increasingly aware of the successes achieved, with a particular emphasis in matching nutrient applications to the yield potential of aging ratoons.

Over the programme’s life (2013–16), achievements and results included:

• Sites where nitrogen application rates were modified to suit a block or zone yield potential, with no indicated yield decline when compared to grower rates or the Six Easy Steps rate (district yield). This is a significant outcome from the project, with a potential overall reduction in nitrogen inputs of more than 3,500 tonnes of applied nitrogen per annum across the three NRM regions.

• Trials involving changes to herbicide strategies (from extensive use of residual herbicides to the strategic use of knockdown and residual herbicides). These trials have the potential to provide strong environmental outcomes without suffering yield declines. Reduction in residual herbicide use of more than 25 % has been targeted as a result of these trials.

• Trials involving variable rate application of Balance ® herbicide based on changing soil properties. These trials were amongst the first of their type in the cane industry. Trials have proven to be successful in matching application rates to soil properties without loss of cane production, while maintaining effective weed control.

• Trials conducted in the Burdekin aimed to improve mill mud application by applying lower rates of mud onto the top of the row. These trials have resulted in commercial mill mud contractors undertaking their own development based on the results achieved. Banded applications have delivered a significant improvement in water quality compared to traditional high volume within row methods. In particular, Phosphorous (P) levels have shown improved losses by as much as 12 kg/ha in water exiting the paddock.

• Enhanced efficiency fertiliser trials undertaken within the project are considered to have led the way in research of this exciting new development in fertiliser technology. The trials have shown that in the majority of cases, reducing Nitrogen (N) rates in association with enhanced efficiency fertiliser resulted in no loss of production.

Monitoring Organisation Reef Catchments

Name Katrina Dent

Phone 4968 4207

Email katrina.dent@reefcatchments.com

Position in organisation General Manager

Activity Type science and research (e.g. monitoring activities, trials of innovative practices or new equipment)

Activity Indicators water quality in freshwater river basins

Activity location Don catchment, O'Connell catchment, Pioneer catchment, Plane catchment, Proserpine catchment

Frequency of monitoring

Monitoring Start Date 01/07/2013

30/06/2016

Location of monitoring data

Date quality / confidence

Website URL http://reefcatchments.com.au/land/game-changer/

Collaborators NQ Dry Tropics, Terrain Natural Resource Management, Farmacist, Mackay Area Productivity Services, Catchment Solutions, Australian Government

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