The winner of the 2011 Sugarcane Grower of the Year – Individual Grower is Mario Raccanello.

Sponsored by Canegrowers, the Sugarcane Grower of the Year – Individual Grower Award is part of the Australian Farmer of the Year Awards, hosted by Kondinin Group and ABC Rural, where Mario accepted his award at a gala dinner in Sydney on Wednesday, September 7.

Farming on the floodplains of the Tully River in far north Queensland, sugarcane grower Mario is keenly focused on a reduction of run-off on his 330ha enterprise.

Mario has set up a safety net of nutrient traps to all drains before the water discharges into inland lagoons, and has completed nutrient and weed management plans.

He has implemented a GPS system which controls all the farm’s machinery and software to record all inputs.

He says the pinpoint accuracy today’s farmers are able to adopt on their properties results in beautiful, healthy, farming systems appreciated by the abundance of crocodiles, birds and fish.

Canegrowers chief executive officer, Steve Greenwood, said that the field vying for the sugarcane grower award was nothing short of an impressive display of innovative farming.

“The competition in the category bought home the sheer level of adoption of best practice in sugarcane,” he said.

According to Greenwood that’s no mean feat as strong research into best practice in sugarcane is resulting in an ever evolving compendium of new technologies and techniques continually being bought on line.

“Mario Raccanello and Ashley Petersen epitomise the adoption of best practices occurring right across the sugarcane sector,” he said.

“Let’s face it - it is an ever moving feast making implementation on-farm as continual as it is time consuming and oft-times expensive - but these growers have really taken the bull by the horns and are a great example of what is happening at the farm and industry level.”

The national Australian Farmer of the Year Awards, hosted by Kondinin Group and ABC Rural, are designed to promote a positive image of farmers, inspire and encourage career choices and investment interest in Australian agriculture.

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