An invention manufactured in north Queensland is set to revolutionise how fertiliser is applied to cane paddocks.

Supported by the Federal Government’s Wet Tropics Sugar Industry Partnership, Ingham business LiquaForce was successful in gaining a Reef Trust 3 grant to develop a variable rate liquid fertiliser applicator.

LiquaForce Managing Director Cameron Liddle said the applicator was designed and manufactured by TDC Auto Electrical in Ingham, supported by a team of local agronomists and cane farmers.

“Like farms the world over, every sugar cane farm has variations in their soil types, and that means how the crop takes up fertiliser nutrients can vary from block to block.” Mr Liddle said.

“Liquid fertiliser is becoming more popular throughout Queensland and northern New South Wales cane growing regions due to its flexibility in adding precise trace elements when the crop needs it.

“The variable rate liquid applicator that we’ve built takes that level of precision one step further, based on a dual-tank liquid fertiliser application with GPS rate controllers.

“It will allow the operator of the applicator to independently control the delivery rate from each of the tanks, which will deliver key nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus in the necessary amounts for the crop. Obviously, this also means a reduction in over application – which is good for the farmers budget and the environment.”

The new system also includes the ability to download mapping data of fertilised areas, as well as other rate application analysis.

This will allow growers to continually build personal data and understanding of the necessary fertiliser amounts based on site-specific, on-farm mapping.

Director of TOPCROP, Townsville-based agronomist Don Pollock, helped support the project.

Mr Pollock said the technology offers sugar cane farmers a forward-looking service that has not been available previously.

“Site-specific agriculture and variable rate application deliver improved farming practice and economic benefit compared with a blanket application of one fertiliser product and rate across a field,” Mr Pollock said.

“Importantly, increased fertiliser use efficiency delivers an improved water quality and environmental outcome.”

Managing Director Cameron Liddle said the project is an inspiring example of regional ingenuity.

“This project brought small business, farmers, and state and federal government bodies together all for the betterment of the local sugar cane industry and the health of our waterways,” Mr Liddle said.

“It’s an exciting innovation that north Queensland can be very proud of.”

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