Gerry Deguara – Winner
Gerry Deguara is a second-generation farmer located in the North Eton in Central Queensland. Gerry and his family farm approximately 800 hectares growing mostly sugar cane but also several pulse crops. He has and continues to be a leading figure in promoting stronger natural resource management within the Australian sugar industry. For Gerry, the journey of improving the sustainability of his large farming operation all started with major changes to water infrastructure and the successful use of centre pivots for irrigation. He has converted farm and harvesting equipment to a two metre controlled traffic farming system maximising the growing area of his paddocks, reduce fossil fuel use, improve yields, improve soil health and reduce the volumes of chemical and nutrient run-off in water leaving the farm. Gerry has a strong focus on using sugar mill bi-products with mill mud and a Bio-Dunder, mixed with urea to now provide the vast majority of the farm nutrient requirements. He has also adopted green cane harvesting thereby eliminating the need for cane burning operations. Gerry freely gives his time to show and explain the many changes in his farming operation and has hosted visits from farmers and Australian and international delegates.
Frank Mugica – Runner up
Frank Mugica has farmed in the Burdekin for twenty-five years. He first learnt about the effects of his management practices by testing cane runoff from his cane and grazing property in Dalbeg. He has since installed a recycle pit, shielded sprayer, and spray controller, all improving efficiency and reducing environmental impact. In 2014, Frank trialled banded mill mud on his current 120-hectare farm in Brandon and now practices this farm-wide. He joined another project supporting growers adjacent to wetlands to trial nutrient and irrigation efficiencies and has reduced his nitrogen use by 20kg per hectare. Recently, he adapted machinery for strip tillage for green cane trash blanketing. By 2022, Frank plans to be a fully accredited Smartcane BMP farmer. To encourage wildlife, Frank began revegetating the farm perimeter, planting 100 native trees in 2017. He continues planting and weeding for habitat, shade and erosion control. As an “outdoor classroom”, it also helps his daughters, Alaya and Ellyana, to understand biodiversity, pest control, and the balance between agriculture and nature. Frank has embraced every opportunity to better manage nutrient use, improve irrigation efficiency and raise awareness of important environmental issues, both locally and among the wider farming community.
Barry and Leanne O’Sullivan
Barry and Leanne O’Sullivan have created a system on their grazing property Glenalpine that meets community needs, while being amenable to the needs of nature. They have been able to regenerate pasture through drought, whilst growing the productivity and profitability of their business. Using cattle as a herd, and through a system of management acknowledging what nature presents and utilising it with regeneration in mind, they move the herd across the landscape. These grazing principles allow the land to regenerate and business to grow, the cattle have highly palatable pasture to graze, which aids in maintaining good calving rates, increased weight gain and a higher quality of feed further into the dry season. Barry and Leanne continue to engage in projects outside of their pasture system. These projects have involved several years of monitoring wildlife, gully remediation, fencing dams and wetland areas, followed by public field days onsite. Barry and Leanne completed a Holistic Management training course supported by NQ Dry Topics and implemented highly intensive grazing practices to manage weed infestations, halt gullying, improve pasture composition and improve water quality, and are members of the Grazing BMP advisory board looking for solutions to implement industry wide best management practices.