Improving agricultural practices: science and the Australian sugarcane grower, 1864-1915

Griggs, Peter (2004) Improving agricultural practices: science and the Australian sugarcane grower, 1864-1915. Agricultural History, 78 (1). pp. 1-33.

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Abstract

Sugarcane emerged by 1884 as the most favoured crop cultivated in the coastal lands of Eastern Australia between Cairns and Grafton. initially, Australian canegrowers invested as little labor and capital as possible. Contemporary commentators, however, were very critical of the agricultural practices adopted by the country's first canegrowers, noting a lack of careful cultivation and plowing, fertilizer use, drainage and paddock design. Various reasons for the use of these "inadequate techniques" are discussed in this essay, with the conclusion being offered that the most important factor was a lack of scientific knowledge about farming under Australian conditions. By 1891, cane-growing techniques were reported to be "on the upgrade", with improved cane and sugar yields. Such a transformation had commenced due to the introduction of some mechanization and the dissemination of research findings and technical information about scientific cultivation methods under Australian conditions. This detail had been assembled during the 1880s and 1890s mainly by The Colonial Sugar Refining Company and the Queensland government Sugar Experiment Stations, which had been established following pressure from canegrowers who increasingly sought advice on the correct farming techniques.

Item ID: 286
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: Queensland sugar industry, agricultural practices, farming techniques, Queensland Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations, fertiliser use, drainage, irrigation, farm machinery, mechanisation
ISSN: 1533-8290
Date Deposited: 11 Sep 2006
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1604 Human Geography > 160499 Human Geography not elsewhere classified @ 34%
21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2199 Other History and Archaeology > 219999 History and Archaeology not elsewhere classified @ 33%
07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0703 Crop and Pasture Production > 070399 Crop and Pasture Production not elsewhere classified @ 33%
SEO Codes: 82 PLANT PRODUCTION AND PLANT PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8203 Industrial Crops > 820304 Sugar @ 51%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australias Past @ 49%
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