EXCERPT FROM :-THE HISTORY OF
CANE PEST and DISEASE CONTROL BOARDS
BSES Coordinator, Cane Pest & Disease Control Boards (1974-89)
16.21 Isis Area
Cane grubs, presumably Childers grub, were a problem in the Isis by the 1880s, and Isis farmers were reported in 1897 to be taking steps to eradicate the pest. Isis Pest Destruction Fund, initially known as Isis Beetle Board, was probably set up in 1897 to pay for beetle and canegrub collection. Nothing is known about its early structure. By 1913, and possibly even back in the late 1890s, it was controlled by Isis Shire Council (previously known as Isis Divisional Board) which could impose a levy on certain properties in order to finance payments for beetles and grubs (BSES 27th Ann. Rep.). The Isis Fund operated until the end of 1930, when Government subsidies to voluntary Pest Destruction Boards were terminated.
A Childers Mill Grub Fund was set up in the early 1900s or even late 1890s after Childers Mill started in 1895. The Fund paid for grubs during 1910-13 and probably did so in 1920 (CSR Ann. Rep. 1910-12 and 1920). However, the Fund was terminated shortly afterwards and growers were covered by the Isis Fund until 1930. Isis Cane Pests Fund was set up in February 1931 at a meeting of the Childers Mill Canegrowers’ Association, to replace the previous Fund operated by Isis Shire Council (Isis Recorder, 5.2.31). Growers agreed to a levy of up to one penny per ton, and CSR Co. agreed to a 1:2 subsidy. It is not known what happened in other mill areas in Isis. The Fund ceased operations in late 1934.
The statutory Isis Cane Pests Board was constituted in August 1934 and the first meeting took place on 4 December 1934. The change to a statutory Board was probably precipitated by CSR closing its Childers Mill after the 1933 crushing season, and the need to cover all growers in the district. It operated until 1942. Isis Cane Disease Control Board was constituted in February 1939 to control Fiji disease, and operated alongside the Pests Board until 1942. Isis Cane Pest and Disease Control Board began operations on 1 April 1942 when all existing Boards were converted to joint operations, and continued up to July 1991.
Work of the Boards
The earliest reference found (SJTC 8:272, 1899) said that the Isis Beetle Board waxed cold and paid almost nothing in the last period - there were plenty of grubs but few were collected. Grubs were certainly a major problem in the early days - Department of Agriculture Ann. Rep. 1910-11 records 700 acres lost as grubs were so bad. BSES 27th Ann. Rep. noted that the Isis Pest Destruction Fund had paid for grubs and beetles for more than 30 years, i e before 1897. BSES 31st Ann. Rep. gave details on the volumes of grubs collected in Isis for the 1913-1930 period, the lowest being 786 quarts and the highest 12,513 quarts - the latter worth about £950 to collectors at 18 pence/quart. Childers Fund paid for grub and beetle collections in that mill area, certainly in 1910-1913 and possibly from the late 1890s to 1920.
Isis Cane Pests Board’s only business was to control grubs. It agreed to pay nine pence per quart pot for grubs collected during ploughing, with a maximum of £500 p.a. Later, as carbon bisulphide fumigation came into vogue, the Board promoted and subsided its use. Isis Disease Control Board was formed to control Fiji Disease in POJ2878. It employed a supervisor and started an inspection and roguing campaign with a gang of up to nine men. This built on the work done in 1938 by a roguing gang funded by Isis Mill and the Canegrowers’ Executive.
Isis CP&DC Board continued the Fijicontrol campaign until the last diseased stool was destroyed in 1947. Isis was to experience its share of the great southern Fiji disease epidemic emanating from Bundaberg in the 1970s and 1980s. Roguing and plant source restrictions slowed the spread of the disease, but could never stop the build up in NCo310 and its further spread to other varieties. Clean seed plots, the introduction of more resistant canes and elimination of NCo310 brought control in the mid 1980s, but there were over 3,000,000 Fiji diseased stools in Isis at one stage.
With so much concentration on Fiji, mosaic increased gradually until it multiplied rapidly in the susceptible Q50 in the 1950s, and was not under good control until the mid 1960s. Another large epidemic blew up in the susceptible Q137, Q103 and Q95 in the 1980s, and was hard to control by inspections, ploughouts and clean plant sources until these canes were phased out.
RSD caused large yield losses at several periods in the 50s, 60s and 70s in the dry Isis region, despite Board efforts. Compulsory plant source inspections were introduced in 1975 at the Board’s request, the first time this had occurred in Queensland. This plus a clean seed scheme reduced disease incidence to low levels for the 1980s and into the 1990s.
Pest control operations continued throughout, mainly with insecticides for canegrubs and soldier flies.
Board Staff and Members
Earle Luckett was supervisor for 34 years, from 1940 to his retirement in 1974. He knew his area and growers well, and put his views forcefully when needed. He was also a prominent participant at Pest Board Conferences. Ian Ross took over as supervisor in 1974, and was still there in mid-1991. A quiet character, he preferred to remain in the background in contrast to Luckett, but knew how to get things done.
Jack Harley was Chairman from 1958 to 1975. He was a capable leader for the Board but always sought advice and operated by the book. He enjoyed Pest Board Conferences and was prominent in debate. Bob Kingston was Chairman from 1975 to 1986, a period covering a serious RSD problem, the great Fiji epidemic and the start of a mosaic problem. He successfully steered the Board through these. Gavin Peterson was a member for several years before becoming Chairman in 1986. He was faced with mosaic and canegrub problems, and then incorporation of productivity functions in the Board's duties.
THE HISTORY OF
CANE PEST and DISEASE CONTROL BOARDS
Board Secretary 1980 - 2013
1990 - 2013
In 1990, the Queensland Government introduced a White Paper proposing legislative changes for the Queensland sugar industry. The Sugar Industry Working Party recommended the absorption of Cane Pest & Disease Control Boards with the Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations (BSES). On 1st July 1991, by Name Change, the Isis Cane Pest & Disease Control Board became the Isis Cane Protection & Productivity Board with added responsibilities towards productivity initiatives. Gavin Peterson continued as Chairman until 31st March 1999. Neil Kingston joined the Board as a Growers’ representative on 1st April 1990. Following in his father’s footsteps, Neil succeeded Gavin as Chairman and continues to serve the Isis sugar industry in that capacity at the time of documenting this history. Ian Ross remained in the role of Supervisor until 9th August 2002.
The Board throughout this time concentrated its activities on cane grub control, propagation of planting material from the Toweran Mother Plot into Tertiary Increase Plots, distribution of clean seed cane, maintenance of the Hot Water Treatment facility, involvement in the BSES Plant Breeding Program and the coordination of sugarcane exhibits at the Isis District Agricultural, Industrial and Pastoral Society’s Annual Show. A 5-Year Strategic Plan was developed and lodged with the Department of Primary Industries
In 1993 the matters addressed by the Board included; a request from the Queensland Mechanical Cane Harvesters Association seeking a seat on the Board and the formation of a district (CANEGROWERS, Isis Mill and Isis Cane Protection & Productivity Board) committee to investigate productivity initiatives. A request for a breakdown of irrigation costs, including operating costs of electric motors and the most suitable electricity tariff was proposed. An outcome of the industry productivity committee was the introduction of the Annual Productivity Booklets distributed by Isis Mill showing productivity comparisons by soil type and variety where the grower could assess their own relativity.
In 1995, the Board introduced a District Soil Sampling Service and promoted the soil sample as the foundation for district wide fertilizer recommendations. Isis Mill introduced a $20 subsidy for each soil sample where the BSES Extension Officer interpreted the analysis and wrote the fertilizer recommendation for the grower.
In 1996, the Board entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with BSES and made a financial contribution towards the engagement of a Research Assistant to implement a program of productivity improvement, collating productivity data and conducting special projects (e.g. monitoring and controlling Rhyparida beetle and trickle irrigation).
In 1997, the Board participated in discussions regarding the proposal by Isis Aquaculture to grow fish in the irrigation channels for export to China. Feral pigs were becoming a major problem and the Board investigated a baiting and trapping program. The Board also examined the Sugar Industry Working Parties recommendations for a review of the roles of BSES and CPPBs.
A new Hot Water Treatment facility was built in 1998 by Isis Mill for use by Isis Cane Protection and Productivity Board. The tank was portable so it could be used at any time of year for the treatment of wholestalk and billet cane.
Mosaic Disease became a major issue for BSES in the Bingera and Isis cane areas in 1999. BSES had prepared a Mosaic Disease Strategy and recommended that ICPPB implement a management strategy in the hot spot areas so that planting material contained no greater than 2% infection. Joint meetings with Millaquin CPPB were held to discuss and resolve any disease control issues on adjoining farms and to implement an action plan to minimise future problems.
The Isis CPPB was involved in deliberations regarding future structures and funding options of Cane Protection & Productivity Board raised by the Queensland Government considering amendments to the Sugar Industry Act 1999. Legal advice indicted no reason to change from the present ‘statutory body’ within the meaning of the Sugar Industry Act 1999. A Membership Deduction Authority was circulated to cane growers due to the removal of the compulsory levy.
Long servicing BSES Extension Officer, Cliff Jones, retired in July 2000. His service to the local sugar industry and the Board (BSES Proxy) in particular were recognized with a farewell BBQ held at the Isis Golf Club. Orange Rust was also devastating Q124. Due to the introduction of Plant Breeders Rights (PBR) the Board had to enter into a Cane Variety Distribution Agreement with BSES. Bruce Quinn was recruited from Bingera Cane Protection and Productivity and commenced duties on 4th September 2000 and succeeded Ian Ross as Supervisor on 9th August 2002.
The property at 17 Nelson Street, Childers was sold in December 2002. ICPPB also assumed the ownership of the Sub Surface Drain Cleaning unit funded by the Rural Water Use Efficiency Initiative.
The Non-Statutory Structures Option Paper prepared by the QDPI was tabled in March 2003 with a Board decision pending and implementation by June 30, 2004. In a letter, CANEGROWERS Isis proposed ICPPB incorporate into a company structure, limited by guarantee, with directors comprised of two appointed by CANEGROWERS Isis, two appointed by Isis Mill and three elected by grower members. In December 2003, ICCPB ultimately resolved to incorporate as a company limited by guarantee with the then elected members becoming directors of the new Company. A draft company Constitution was made. Isis Target 100 was launched as a district productivity initiative.
Isis Cane Protection & Productivity Board was dissolved on 1st July 2004 and Isis Productivity Limited (IPL) was registered as a public company on 2nd June 2004 and became the replacement entity and new membership forms were executed by grower shareholders.
2005 brought an expanded cane area as deregulation of the Sugar Industry allowed growers the choice of mill. In excess of 100 new growers supplied Isis Mill in 2005.
Sugarcane Smut was found in Childers by Supervisor Bruce Quinn on 6th June 2006. The smut discovery triggered a major Incursion and eradication program initiated by Bio-Security Queensland and BSES that was quite restrictive and invasive. Surveillance was undertaken for the whole of the 2006 harvest season until Sugarcane Smut was found in Mackay. IPL accessed 1706 tonnes of planting material of resistant varieties from Ingham, Burdekin and Mackay at a cost of in excess of $500K. A variety replacement plan was prepared for growers to use to remove susceptible varieties over a 5-year period.
In 2011, the Sugar Industry RD&E reform commenced which ultimately lead to loss of the BSES Extension Advisory Service. IPL took Constitutional changes to members which were endorsed 22nd February 2012. All directors are now growers. IPL is charged with delivering productivity initiatives and a second Productivity Officer Andrew Jakins was engaged on 2nd July 2012.
During 2012-13 the Board worked on developing Corporate Governance, OH&S, Productivity Plan and staff Work Plans. Another major development of 2013 has been the development of a website. IPL staff manage 8 enviroscans on the different soil types around the cane supply area with the data published on the Isis Mill website. Board staff have also been working with growers who have suffered flood damage to help with farm re-establishment.