The Queensland cane industry has a long history of innovation.
It is currently facing challenges around water quality and the sustainability of the industry. Run-off from cane farms, especially nutrients and pesticides, are linked to poor water quality affecting the Great Barrier Reef. Project Cane Changer is an initiative led by the Queensland CANEGROWERS Organisation that is designed to better understand growers and help increase adoption of best management farming practices.
The Cane Changer project draws on evidence-based principles of psychology and human behaviour to design, implement, and evaluate an industry wide program that aims to understand the day-to-day challenges facing cane farmers and to recognise, value and accelerate their efforts to adopt farming practices that help protect the Reef.
Cane growers have a long history of innovation and are open to the idea of making changes if there are better ways of doing things. Therefore, the goals of the Project are simple: recognise the hard work that farmers have put in to their industry, foster innovation and positive change, and 'Set the Record Straight' with regards to the public image of the Australian sugarcane industry.
In May 2016, the Great Barrier Reef Water Science Taskforce handed down its final report and recommendations for improving water quality entering the Reef, including a recommendation to implement an industry-wide behaviour change program for the sugar cane industry.
Phase One of the Project was completed late 2016, where the BI team took to the cane fields of Queensland to meet the growers, their families, and all of those who work in the industry.
Phase Two was officially launched across the Wet Tropics in February 2017 by the former Minister for Environment, Dr Steven Miles. The second phase of the Project will continue for two years and be inclusive to all farmers in the Wet Tropics region. Further to launching Cane Changer, Minister Miles signed a Cane Changer Commitment in July 2017, joining over 100 farmers in recognising his commitment to the industry.
In January 2018, newly appointed Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Leeanne Enoch demonstrated her support and commitment to the sugar industry by signing her own Cane Changer Commitment.
Cane Changer continues to be a unique demonstration of the diverse application of behavioural science to create behaviour change at a population level.