NSW is home to some 500 sugarcane farming families, many of whom are multi-generational farmers. When you look at the combination of the agribusiness, location and lifestyle of sugarcane farming in NSW, it’s not hard to appreciate why it is such an appealing occupation.
Danny and Anna are the fifth generation of the Lickiss family to own, farm and live on their main 250-acre property in the Richmond Valley. Having married and moved to the home farm in 2010, the couple have since expanded both family and farm, with the addition of their three children and taking on a further 500 acres of cane ground under share farming arrangements over a period of several years.
Danny has invested a great deal of effort into researching farming methods and technology to develop the best business model for his agricultural enterprise.
Working over 700 acres independently requires a well-planned combination of time efficient, cost effective and productive farming practices. A focus on efficiencies and yield has led to changing paddock row widths and utilising rotational crops. Row widths have
been adjusted to suit the size of modern harvesting and haul-out machinery to prevent driving on and damaging the cane stools; to compact the inter-row to better handle wet weather conditions; and to save time, fuel and soil disturbance by only working the growing portion of a paddock.
Fallow crops such as soya bean has the added benefits of renewing the soil with nitrogen, providing an opportunity to stifle weed propagation, and spread farm workload by cultivating the rotational crops in the cane ‘off season’.
Modern equipment and technology are important tools of the trade in farming today. Danny has partnered with neighbouring farmers to jointly purchase higher cost gear such as a disc opener bean planter, cane planter and cane harvester. He has also made his own investment in state-of-the-art tractors fitted with GPS technology.
Having always had a love for the land and the Northern NSW beaches, Danny and Anna believe they have found their perfect lifestyle. Working for themselves and enjoying time with their young family provides a great sense of fulfilment and enjoyment.
When asked about the highlights of being cane farmers, both Anna and Danny were quick to respond; “Lifestyle.”
With the bulk of work done in an intensive six-month period, there is plenty of quality time to spend with their young children as well as take on other projects.