Canegrower works smarter not harder with QRIDA Sustainability Loan

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Shimmering sugarcane decorates the surrounds of the Mackay region and amongst the rows of this sweet crop, growers are working hard to improve the sustainability of their operations. 

Andrew Vassallo

For Andrew Vassallo, this takes the shape of reducing labour and improving water efficiency across his 120 hectares of sugarcane in Brightly, 40 kilometres west of Mackay.

Andrew was able to access a Sustainability Loan through the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) to purchase a centre pivot and he’s been reaping the rewards ever since.

“I accessed the Sustainability Loan and a majority of those funds went towards the centre pivot irrigation.

“I’m a one-man operation so the labour savings were huge for just the amount of country it covers,” he said. 

In addition to reducing on-farm labour, the centre pivot has provided Andrew with more control and flexibility over his irrigation.

“As farmers, we’ve all got a social license to operate and we were doing a lot of water sampling on-farm so we were seeing what runoff we were getting regarding herbicide, chemical and nitrogen.”

“With the pivot, I can control how much water I can put on, the uniformity is unbelievable, we don’t get any runoff,” he said. 

Having a local Regional Area Manager available who understood the local industry and ask questions was a great advantage for Andrew through the application process. 

“Working with our local [Regional Area] Manager, the whole process was so simple. 

They had a great understanding of the sugar industry, which was a benefit.”

“The application process gave me a better understanding of my business, the detail that QRIDA were looking for, gave you a better understanding of how your business operated.”

“The whole process was pretty straight forward, to be honest,” Andrew said.Regional Area Manager Tegan McBride with canegrower Andrew Vassallo

Local Regional Area Manager for the Central Coast and Whitsundays, Tegan McBride, says it’s great to see producers being proactive about taking their productivity to the next level.

“It’s encouraging to hear how Andrew has been able to improve his farm productivity, decrease his labour on-farm and also improve the water quality coming off his farm with this QRIDA loan” 

“Once your farm has achieved profitability, QRIDA’s Sustainability Loan is here to help you improve productivity and take it to that next level,” she said.

QRIDA’s Sustainability Loan offers up to $1.3 million to help growers and producers invest in the latest infrastructure to create a viable future for their farming business.

To find out more about this loan, contact your local Regional Area Manager on 1800 623 946 or visit QRIDA’s Sustainability Loan webpage.

Client story

Last updated: 11 September 2023