NSW is unique in that much of the cane (up to 75%) is cut at two years old. Due to our temperate climate, the two-year-old cane is high yielding, carries a significant trash load and is usually sprawled or fallen over. When these heavy crops are harvested green the very thick trash blanket left on the soil surface has been proven to having a significant negative impact on productivity because soil temperatures are lowered which inhibits re-growth (ratooning) of the cane crop.
Burning of cane prior to harvest remains the only viable option in NSW. It is one of the most onerous tasks that cane farmers have to do – it is dirty, dangerous work that usually has to be done late at night or very early in the morning.
Cane farmers have the legal right to burn cane. Burning of cane falls under the provisions of the Rural Fires Act 1997 and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
Download our information sheet on why sugarcane is burned: The Burning Question