Sugar Processing: Environment


While the tropical conditions of Queensland's east coast are ideal for growing sugar cane, they can have an impact on the environment. Consequently, many growers are adopting new farming practices to reduce soil erosion.

One such practice is green cane harvesting. This involves harvesting the cane green without burning the leaf trash and spreading the trash cuttings over the harvested field. These cuttings act as a protective blanket for the soil, preventing soil erosion, naturally assisting in weed control, improving soil structure and conserving moisture in the soil.

This process greatly reduces the need for soil cultivation which also minimises soil erosion on Queensland's cane lands.

In areas of heavy rainfall, green cane harvesting may not be suitable as the trash blanket can lead to waterlogging of the crop. In other areas, the trash blanket can adversely affect the temperature of the soil. However in those areas where it is suitable, adoption of green cane harvesting is increasing. More than 35 percent of Queensland cane farmers practise green cane harvesting with 97 percent of all cane in the Ingham area now harvested green.