Spreading the benefits


Efficiency on a North Queensland banana farm has spiked, thanks to the recent introduction of a locally-built spreader.

Mick Horsford farms at Mena Creek and Pin Gin Hill, along with his brother Kris and father Lance.

His grandfather began growing bananas in the area more than five decades ago, and the family now runs approximately 90 hectares.

Mick applied to purchase the spreader with the assistance of incentive grant funding through Reef Trust III, knowing there would be a number of benefits on-farm and to the environment.

While it’s hard to put an exact figure on the improvements, he estimates a time saving of 40-50 per cent, as they only have to drive down every other row.

“It can apply any fertilizer product we put through it,” he explained. “We farm 7m rows and it spreads the product uniformly across the whole bed in every second row. It’s very time effective and better for the plant uptake.”

The Horsfords are moving towards more sustainable forms of nitrogen such as composts, meat and bone, and treated manures, with the aim of  improving soil health while growing their crop.

“The spreader also helps us control the amount of leaching and run-off by applying the product weekly if needed in wetter months, and at lower rates.

“By entering every second row, it also ensures the rows aren’t damaged, which helps maintain ground cover and ensures minimal soil and nutrients leave the property.”

The spreader was built by Chris Grant of Cando Mechanical.

“I’m extremely happy with the spreader,” Mick said. “It has improved the efficiency in both time and accuracy, and I would strongly recommend this option to any farmer.”

The Reef Alliance Project is a partnership between agricultural industry, regional NRM bodies and facilitated by the Queensland Farmers Federation (QFF), with a common goal of securing the future of the Great Barrier Reef. The Reef Alliance Program is funded by the Australian Government and delivered through the Reef Trust.