BIG BEANS: Whitsunday cane farmer Bill Blair with his super soybean crop, which should prove quite a money-spinner this season, in addition to boosting soil nutrients.
BIG BEANS: Whitsunday cane farmer Bill Blair with his super soybean crop, which should prove quite a money-spinner this season, in addition to boosting soil nutrients. Rory Sheavils

Cane grower profits from using his bean

WHITSUNDAY sugarcane farmer Bill Blair's soybean cover crop is set to produce a bounty.

Mr Blair uses the soybeans to restore nutrients in his soil but, thanks to his thoughtful planning and a little luck, the crop should also be good for his bank account.

"There's definitely money to be made out of it and you get all the benefits," Mr Blair said.

These benefits include an increase in nitrogen in the soil, meaning Mr Blair won't need to add much of the chemical himself.

"I'll top it up a little bit but it won't be much," he said.

In addition, the soybeans work to repair the damage done to the soil by cane.

"All the nematodes and baddies in cane, you're breaking from that and you're reducing the amount of baddies in the ground by growing a cover crop," Mr Blair said.

This means more money in his pocket and a better product going to market.

Mr Blair attributes a large part of his success to the form of farming he's using.

"This way of farming, this bedding and minimum till, you can get on the ground after rain sooner, so that's the trick to it," he said.

"I had it lasered, levelled and bedded up and I got the rain in January, and I was straight in behind it there, planting it probably two to three days later."

This proved effective for Mr Blair, with his fields expected to yield three to four tonnes of food-grade product per hectare.

The result will be a bigger pay cheque and a better chance of success come next cane crop.

"Roughly, if you had to go and get your harvester and transport to the mill and all that sort of thing, it's about $750 a hectare, but at three to four tonnes a hectare you're looking at $1600 a hectare, and that's net that you can put into your next cane crop," Mr Blair said.

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