Embracing nutrient planning across generations

Embracing nutrient planning across generations

The Zecchinati family has been in the business of banana farming for over three decades. Now, Michael and Belinda Zecchinati are helping their daughter, Kayla, step up into the business.

After attending one of ABGC’s past Nutrient Management workshops, the couple was eager for Kayla to learn more about fertilizer and crop nutrition. After speaking with Molly Blake from ABGC’s Best Management Practice team, together they decided to sign up for the Cassowary Coast Reef Smart Farming Nutrient Management Planning project.

“I’ve been teaching Kayla what I can, but I thought the project could be a great start for Kayla to learn the basics about farming and banana nutrition”, Michael said.

To kick things off, the three Zecchinati family members met Molly to chat about the farm and what they wanted to get out of the project. This information was used to tailor their program, and identify soil and leaf sampling locations, which were delivered for free.

“I really enjoyed learning how to take the soil and leaf samples with Molly. It’s helped to demystify the process and understand the work agronomists do,” Kayla said.

The results from these samples were analyzed by Anita Davina, from Total Growers Services, who produced a comprehensive nutrient management plan for their farm for the next year. Molly and Anita then met with Michael, Belinda and Kayla to go over the results and discuss some potential priorities.

“It was great to learn new bits of knowledge from the agronomist about how to balance our crop nutrition.  It makes you think differently,” Michael said. “Liming is going to be important for us going forward, to give the plants a good healthy soil foundation to be able to access the nutrients we apply.”

Kayla also came along to one of ABGC’s Nutrient Management workshops regularly held in South Johnstone. Led by an expert agronomist, these workshops are interactive and cater to small groups of growers.

“The highlight for me was the workshop, especially learning from other growers in the room. I learnt how to identify nutrient deficiencies I’d never seen before, but some other growers see often,” Kayla explained.

“We’ve been busy getting the new farm up to scratch, so we were worried we may not have enough time. But it’s definitely been worth it. It doesn’t matter if you’re a new or more experienced grower, there is something for everyone to learn through this project.”

Growers interested in learning more about nutrient management planning can get in contact with Molly Blake on 0419 602 864 or molly@abgc.org.au.

The Cassowary Coast Reef Smart Farming project is funded through the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, and is managed locally by CANEGROWERS Innisfail.