Stotts Creek sugarcane farmer Robert Quirk.
Stotts Creek sugarcane farmer Robert Quirk.

An effective Quirk to farming

STOTTS Creek farmer Robert Quirk is harvesting the benefits of biochar and hopes other sugarcane growers will embrace the product.

The Canegrowers Association Tweed branch chairman was asked to write a chapter of The Biochar Revolution, joining scientists and farmers from around the world.

“To be selected was pretty special,” Mr Quirk said. “We started trialling biochar in the sugarcane crops about four year ago.”

Mr Quirk said although they did not see a dramatic increase in crop yield, there were other benefits.

“We haven’t got a lot of results, mainly because the soil here is so good, full of organic matter. It’s more effective with sandy soil,” he said. “Where we’re getting the benefits, it appears, is in the reduction of nitrous oxide.

“Nitrous oxide is 300 times more potent than CO2, so to be able to reduce it by 70% would put us in a position to be able to make a claim for carbon credit. It’s a viable alternative to cogeneration.”

Mr Quirk encouraged fellow farmers to trial biochar and see the benefits for themselves.

“It’s exciting times. We’re working with the UN’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) and we’re going to test the biochar technology in emerging countries,” he said. “Hopefully we’re going to work with the Indonesians to put one in their sugar mill.”

Indonesian farmers will visit the area in about two weeks to see the biochar benefits first hand.



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