Brother and sister duo win national award for dirty job
IT'S A dirty job, but Proserpine siblings Paul Rogers and Donna Rogers have been happily spreading environmentally friendly fertiliser across the region for years.
For the past five years the family-run Farm HQ has been distributing Entec, a nitrogen stabilised fertiliser, to the region's cane growers.
Mr Rogers said 60 per cent of his cane grower customers in the Proserpine region had adopted Entec treated nitrogen.
This committed local customer-base had led the family-run business to become one of the biggest distributors of Entec treated fertilisers in Australia, Incitec Pivot Fertilisers president Stephan Titze said.
This year, FarmHQ has been recognised as the Entec Dealer of the Year. It is the second time in three years the business has won the award.
The popularity of the fertiliser was due to the industry's hunger for nitrogen, Mr Rogers said.
It was an intensive industry, he said, with most of the cane in the Proserpine region harvested green, fertilised and flood irrigated all in a matter of a few days.
"While this is a practical and cost-effective farming system for growers, the downside is that it creates an ideal environment for nitrogen losses through denitrification and on sandy soils, leaching,” he said.
While the cane may be hungry for more nitrogen, new environmental laws could put restrictions on the field, Mr Rogers said.
He said the Environmental Protection (Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill would require most growers to reduce nitrogen rates from 160-170 kgN/ha to 140 kgN/ha
"With random audits carried out by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science, growers are under a lot of pressure to reduce their nitrogen rates,” he said.
By using the stabilised fertiliser, Mr Rogers said, growers would be able to use lower nitrogen rates, obtaining more consistent yields in variable conditions and knowing they are complying with stricter Reef regulation rules.
"(It is) minimising those nitrogen losses and maximising efficiency,” he said.
Mr Rogers said growers used Entec as a tool to manage the changing whims of climate conditions.
He said in 2018 growers faced an eight-month dry spell, from April to November, followed by 1800 mm of rain in the five months from December to April.
"This variability in rain events puts yields and farm incomes at risk, but Entec is the one thing that growers can do to improve security,” he said.
Looking to the future, Mr Rogers tipped that coating fertilisers with trace elements such as zinc and copper would be the next big step for Farm HQ.
"Donna and I are always looking for opportunities to add value to our business, and with soil test results showing zinc deficiencies in local crops, we look forward to tackling this next big challenge,” he said.