LAST year marked 104 consecutive years of cane farming for Norm Anderson’s family.
But while the milestone was momentous, Mr Anderson has began the process of converting his 550 hectare Childers farm into a macadamia plantation.
He said the rising cost of electricity was the motivation for the change, with the cost of production in cane farming pushing higher and higher each year.
The cane farm operates with six centre pivot irrigators and 14 travellers, and uses about 25ML of water each day.
“A couple of years ago we got a little bit disillusioned by the energy costs going up and up and up,” Mr Anderson said.
“It’s really not sustainable irrigating sugar cane with high pressure travellers, so we are looking at some better alternatives and diversification.”
Mr Anderson works alongside his two sons, and said he currently has “a few thousand” macadamia trees in the ground.
The family are sourcing trees from various nurseries, but in order to boost their numbers more rapidly they have also started growing their own.
Mr Anderson said the motivation behind the nursery was purely to quicken the acquisition process, and said it was not saving the operation much money.
This time next year, he hopes to have 40,000 trees in the ground.
The family have begun planting their trees in the areas of their farm that are more difficult to irrigate for cane to increase the productivity of that land.
Despite the benefits of macadamias, Mr Anderson does not see a time when cane won’t be part of his operation.
At the Bundaberg Food Heroes event, Mr Anderson said he was impressed with the Australian Macadamia Society and their vision for the future.
He said the future of the industry was promising, and while he has no definite plans for how much of his farm will be converted to macadamias, he said the “moving target” will continue to change as the industry grows.
“In agriculture you never really know about that, but we are fairly confident with what we are doing.”