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Our efforts are focused on improving sugar yields and sustainability to help support Australia's $1.5 billion sugar industry.

Monitoring nitrogen runoff

We're working on ways to help farmers reduce environmental impacts on the Great Barrier Reef. 

[Music plays and image shows the earth and changes to show the ocean from the air. Text appears: Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has Outstanding Universal Value, including high environmental, cultural and economic value.]

[Image changes to show coral and fish under water. Text appears: It is imperative we protect this natural wonder. Unfortunately, the Reef is under threat from a number of sources. Challenges to the Reef include global warming and land-based pollution.]

[Images changes to show trees, paddocks, a river and coastline. Text appears: Land-based pollution includes nutrients, sediments and chemicals discharged from agriculture. Agricultural pollutants are both a threat in themselves, and reduce the resilience of Reef ecosystems to impacts of global warming.]

[Images changes to show a tractor and sugarcane and text appears: The Australian sugar industry is located adjacent to the Reef.]

[Image changes to show rain and changes to show coastline. Text appears: During the tropical monsoonal wet season, nutrients from sugarcane farms wash into rivers and out to the Reef.]

[Image changes to show underwater and crown-of-thorns starfish and text appears: These nutrients stimulate populations of crown-of-thorns starfish, which cause significant damage to the Reef.]

[Images changes to a tractor harvesting sugarcane and changes to show someone handling cane and text appears: This is why we are working on a number of fronts to reduce the amount of fertiliser applied on farms. Our work is demonstrating that farmers can apply less fertiliser without impacting their crops.]

[Image changes to show a drone taking off and flying over sugarcane and text appears: We are using a drone-based LiDAR system to see if it can provide guided fertilisation plans. Our LiDAR system is unique in its ability to measure the height and density of the crop.]

[Image changes to show colourful Lidar output and text appears: We can track crop performance from establishment to harvest. Our data identifies fertiliser deficient sugarcane 10 weeks after planting. If every farmer had access this data, they could make better fertiliser use decisions.]

[Image changes to show a map of the Queensland coastline with a graph and text appears: So we’ve developed the 1622 platform. It helps farmers optimise their nitrogen fertiliser management to help protect the Reef.]

[Image changes to show fish and coral underwater and text appears: The resulting reduction in agricultural nutrient flows could be a big win for the Great Barrier Reef and its long-term survival.]

[Music plays the CSIRO logo and text appears: CSIRO Australia’s innovation catalyst]

Helping sugarcane farmers protect the Great Barrier Reef

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