Green Cane Harvesting & Trash Blanketing
One of the biggest cultural changes in cane growing has been the replacement of pre-harvest firing by the adoption of green cane harvesting and trash blanketing (GCTB). The volume of cane harvested green (unburnt) has increased by well over 200% in the past 10 years. In 1997, 65% of the Queensland crop was cut green compared with only 18% in 1987.
Adoption of GCTB has been driven by both ecological and efficiency reasons, and has yielded dividends in both environmental and productivity spheres.
Green cane harvesting has dramatically reduced the need for cane firing and its accompanying smoke issues, while the ensuing trash blanket protects soil from erosion during heavy rains and flooding. Blanketing increases the amount of organic matter in the soil, improving composition and structure. It also assists in weed control and conserving soil moisture. GCTB has also contributed to a reduction in nitrogen requirements, while at the same time elimination of burning has made harvesting schedules much more flexible.