Reef Trust III Farmer Case Studies

The process of improving nutrient and herbicide practices is different for each individual farmer based on their circumstances.

Reading about the diverse ways farmers with different soil conditions, farm geography and equipment make practice change is of interest to both farmers and the community.

Below are the stories of how these cane farmers are overcoming challenges to move ahead.

Stephen Fordyce and tractor and dog.

Stephen Fordyce


Stephen Fordyce retrofitted Stool Zippas to reduce losses from volatilisation and rainfall runoff effects. Stool Zippas were easily retro-fitted to an existing Hodge double disc opener fertiliser unit. Read more here.

Cane farm.

Rod Barrett


Rod Barrett intends to move to a B class fertiliser programme by implementing a Biological Farming System based on biologically produced inputs to reduce use of synthetic fertilisers on the crop. Find out more.

Michael Graffunder and spray unit.

Michael Graffunder


Michael Graffunder has purchased a new spray unit with very reliable calibration of spray output, it records spray applications and paddock information in electronic form. Read more here.

Tractor owned by Sharon and Jim Pengelly.

Jim and Sharon Pengelly


Jim and Sharon Pengelly’s improved farming practice uses a variable rate controller which enables adjustment of the amount of chemical they apply according to the level of weed pressure encountered. Find out more.

Heath Argent and tractor.

Heath Argent


The Reef Trust 3 project assisted Heath Argent to construct a liquid fertiliser applicator which is used to apply trace elements as a combined brew. Read more here.

Graeme Blackburn in cane field.

Graeme Blackburn


Graeme Blackburn is transitioning to controlled traffic farming systems over his farms which includes permanent beds. The Reef Trust 3 Programme part-funded the project to purchase a three-row Hodge controlled traffic bed renovator. Find out more.

Dylan Wedel.

Dylan Wedel


Dylan Wedel‘s project aims at improving the accuracy and precision of fertiliser application by converting an old two-row side-dresser into a three-row stool splitter, each row with a 26 inch coulter and double disc openers. Read more here.


David Capello.

David Cappello


David Cappello built his own fertiliser ameliorant applicator to use on his land, which will also be used within the family group of farms. Learn more about how this equipment will be used here.

Bruce Neilsen.

Bruce Neilsen


Bruce and Dean Neilsen purchased a custom-built high clearance sprayer which allows them increased use of knockdown herbicides and reduced reliance on residuals. Read more about the capabilities of their new unit here.

Sam Orr and Andrew Auld.

Sam Orr and Andrew Auld


Reef Trust 3 funding assisted Andrew Auld in the purchase of a harvest monitor plus setup and calibration, a new variable rate controller for a threerow stool splitter, an annual subscription to the equipment dealer link and three StoolZippas. Read more here about Andrew’s farming operation.

Mandy and Glen Schmidtke, cane farmers.

Glen & Mandy Schmidke


Glen & Mandy Schmidtke have sought a challenge late in their career, with a 10 year lease on a 110 ha cane farm in the Plane Creek catchment, south of Mackay. Today, they have completed 2 years managing this farm and see the 8 years ahead as an opportunity. Find out more about their practice change.

Clarrie Mathiason


Clarrie Mathiason had arranged for modifications to his existing fertiliser applicator including the double disc openers and liquid fertiliser system. The Reef Trust 3 programme was able to financially assist Clarrie with these modifications to improve nutrition application and lower potential loss. Find out more here.

Cane at Wallingford..

James Bugeja

James Bugeja owns and operates a 112 ha cane farm in the Wallingford area approximately 25 km west of Mackay. James is a third generation farmer, spending 20 of his 43 years on his current farm. Through Reef Trust III, James has converted his farm to 1.8 m row spacing with controlled traffic via GPS control of the farm machinery – find out more here.

Cane at Sarina.

Ian and Tanya Baillie


Ian and Tanya Baillie have owned their 85 ha cane farm located in Sarina for 11 years and are soon to purchase an adjacent additional 110 ha from a retiring family member. Tanya says, “To me a challenge is something to get through”. Find out more about their practices.

Joseph Borg.

Joseph Borg



Joseph Borg joined Reef Trust III to be part of the industry initiatives to improve water quality, he is pleased that he has the opportunity to consider nutrition rates and make decisions accordingly rather than have regulations, imposed on his farming business. Find out more about Joseph’s farming practices.


RT3 is coordinated by Reef Catchments, with funding through the Australian Government Reef Trust Phase 3 Programme.