Cane hopes sown
NEW technology in the cane industry will cut the amount of fuel used during planting and reduce the impact Clarence Valley farmer's have on their soils.
A group of the Valley's cane farmers - invited by Clarence Canegrowers manager, Pat Battersby - gathered on Andrew Fischer's farm yesterday to see the new machinery in action.
The dual-row planting rig puts in two rows of cane a run, unlike current machinery which plants one. Mr Battersby said the development would help farmers use less diesel, increase land planted under sugar cane and reduce the impact of sowing cane on the soil.
Sugarcane co-operatives across the Clarence Valley recently bought the machinery with a Northern Rivers Catchment Management Authority grant.
Many farmers in the Clarence are aging, so a lot of cane land has not been planted in the past few years. It is hoped the co-op offering this service will make the Valley more productive.
The cane harvest is expected to yield about 465,000 tonnes this year, which is more than last year but a long way under the 900,000 the Valley can put to mill in a good year.
But good season or not, as Mr Fischer and Mr Battersby pointed out, the industry is struggling to secure the next generation of farmers.
Mr Fischer has two sons and a daughter and all are in the city.
"The social life in the Clarence Valley is not exactly thriving I guess," he said.
"And they're all making more money than me even though I still have to them dinner."
But he remained hopeful one of them might take up the generational trade.