The NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative coordinated a 3.5 year Sugar Research and Development (SRDC) / CRC for Sustainable Sugar Production funded study of surface water quality adjacent to canelands in north-east coastal NSW. Around 35,000 ha of good agricultural land are used for sugar cane production by 600 growers in Australia’s most southerly cane growing region, located at downstream ends of the Tweed, Brunswick, Richmond and Clarence River Catchments.
The project targeted six of the many natural and constructed drains in the region, two in each of three mill areas (Condong; Tweed/Brunswick Catchments: Broadwater; Richmond Catchment: Harwood; Clarence Catchment). Growers with farms adjacent to the drains operated as focus groups to discuss and respond progressively to the results from their respective drains, while a range of strategies (media, field days, conference presentations) were used during the study to inform other canegrowers and the wider community of the projects objectives and findings.
The major objectives of the project were:
- To create awareness amongst NSW cane growers of relationships between cane growing practices and water quality
- To progressively enhance water quality by modifying any practices identified by monitoring to be unsustainable;
- To inform growers on other drainage systems in NSW of management practices that have improved water quality and
- To inform the regional community of findings and actions by cane growers to enhance water quality.
Outcomes from the project are detailed in the Fact Sheet and Research Paper below:
RESEARCH PAPER - Improving the quality of water from NSW canelands