Farmer profile - Tony Ross
Tony and Marjorie Ross are cane farmers by trade but Reef Guardian Farmers by nature.
"We're proud to be Reef Guardian farmers, and happy to be a part of the pilot program being developed with the cane industry," Tony said.
Basic management adaptations to their Mackay cane farm have reduced the amount of sediment and nutrients that run-off the farm. They have worked to rebuild the health of the land starting with controlled traffic farming, which is a simple approach that controls the impact of heavy machinery on the soil and minimises the time spent working the soil.
"Over the last 20 years we have been adapting our farming practices to keep fertilisers on the farm and minimise run-off. It's good for our business and the environment," Tony said.
Controlled traffic farming makes a dramatic difference in reducing soil compaction, which helps improve the health of the soil and minimises fuel use. Tony and Marjorie also keep a grassy cover over headlands and drains to filter run-off.
In a step to reduce fertiliser use, weather forecasting tools are used to help determine optimal times for spraying or fertilising. In addition to their current work, Tony and Marjorie have plans to trial organic fertilisers on a five hectare section of the farm and compare the cane yields with conventionally fertilised crops.
"We hope to spread the word to others about how simple modifications to farming practices can make a big difference," Tony said.