Consequences of forcing sugarcane growers in the wet tropics to adopt the recommended fertiliser practices

Benn, Karen E. (2017) Consequences of forcing sugarcane growers in the wet tropics to adopt the recommended fertiliser practices. In: Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference of the Australian Society of Sugar Cane Technologists (39) pp. 200-208. From: ASSCT 2017: 39th Annual Conference of the Australian Society of Sugar Cane Technologists, 3-5 May 2017, Cairns, QLD, Australia.

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Abstract

The dominant scientific paradigm holds sugarcane growers' cultivation practices responsible for the greatest amount of soil and nutrient run-off flowing from the Wet Tropics coast to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) lagoon. Strong encouragement from governmental agencies, coupled with increased fertiliser costs and proposed gains in increased levels of sugar content, have led to marked reduction in the use of N and P fertiliser. However continued governmental pressure exerted on growers to further reduce fertiliser use has been met with reluctance. A qualitative study involving eighty-two in-depth interviews during 2007-2010 with sugar industry and reef protection representatives in the wet tropics region reveals the underlying reasons for this reluctance. Two different conceptual frameworks provide two valuable lenses for understanding the reasons why growers remain unconvinced of proposed benefits for the industry, or the environment, from further reductions in fertiliser applications. Through the lens of ecological modernisation theory (EMT) important economic, social and environmental issues emerge that suggest the proposed benefits of further reductions in fertiliser use are unsustainable. Moreover, through the lens of Foucault's notion of the knowledge/power nexus and associated debates about eco-governmentality, knowledge disputes about the validity and contested nature of the dominant science became an important component of the analysis. These knowledge disputes highlight the power relations of sugar industry and reef protection stakeholders. This combined analysis of growers' reasons for reluctance to further reduce fertiliser use provides insights into the consequences associated with the reliance urban bureaucrats place on scientific expertise to inform natural resource management (NRM) policy without consulting rural peoples' knowledge. The literature reinforces that granting more credence for rural people's knowledge leads to more sustainable NRM policy, which ultimately affects the livelihoods of farmers. More collaborative ways of working with farmers on issues of environmental management need to be applied to avoid undesirable consequences of inappropriate policy.

Item ID: 54008
Item Type: Conference Item (Research - E1)
ISSN: 0726-0822
Keywords: consequences, fertiliser use, Great Barrier Reef, nutrient run-off
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2018 23:36
FoR Codes: 07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070199 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 82 PLANT PRODUCTION AND PLANT PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8203 Industrial Crops > 820304 Sugar @ 100%
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