Feeding fruit when fertigating’s out

Reef Rescue Officer Robert Mayers provides this case study of how Mission Beach’s Barnes family gained funding assistance for a fertiliser spreader.
Ian Barnes, along with his mother, father and sister, grows 32 hectares of Cavendish and Lady Finger bananas at Mission Beach in Far North Queensland.

Ian and his family have been funded in previous Reef Grant/Reef Rescue rounds for automated irrigation and fertigation. He wanted the ability to spread fowl manure and other forms of organic fertilisers as well as the best practice of applying granular fertiliser at times of the year when fertigation is not suitable.

Having accessed Reef Rescue funding in previous rounds, he approached me to ask if a fertiliser spreader could be funded. After our discussion, Ian decided that to complement his practice of interrow grassing and automated fertigation, the use of a banded fertiliser spreader would assist him in his goal to reduce nutrient leaving the farm.

Ian lodged his Expression Of Interest and contacted local suppliers to consider his options and gain quotes. After careful consideration Ian chose a spreader from Daradgee Welding Works and a grant application was lodged with Terrain. He was successful in gaining funding for the project and so the spreader was ordered and delivered.

I helped Ian calibrate the spreader and he now has the ability to accurately spread granular fertiliser in times of the year when fertigation is not suitable. Also, as a part of his nutrient program, Ian applies fowl manure four times a year.

In the long term, the use of the spreader will reduce Ian’s nutrient inputs and improve the timing of applications to best utilise the nutrients being applied. This will help Ian better minimise nutrients leaving the farm.

Ian is extremely happy with the new spreader and thanks Terrain, ABGC and Daradgee Welding Works for assistance in accessing this Australian Government grant.

Ian would now like to access a GPS to assist him setting up permanent beds and contouring his blocks with a gradient of over 3 per cent to help reduce the loss of sediment from his farm.