FURTHER cementing its commitment to building a sustainable Queensland rice industry, SunRice has invested significantly in the last financial year to improve manufacturing productivity and quality of locally grown rice at the Brandon Mill, which it purchased in November 2014.
Key developments have seen a weighbridge installed to enable growers to directly deliver paddy to the mill. A new software system is also being investigated to improve the management of incoming and outgoing rice stocks.
The mill’s drying facilities, which were previously not in use, have been upgraded and connected to four silos to allow paddy, which is delivered at up to 22 per cent moisture, to be milled at the optimum level of 12.5pc moisture, so as to improve product quality and milling throughput.
Plans are also underway to install a new packing line at the mill, which will be capable of producing 20 kilogram packs of branded North Queensland rice. These large packs will be tailored to service growing demand from SunRice’s foodservice customers.
SunRice General Manager, Grower Services, Mike Hedditch said the upgrades to the Brandon Mill were an important step in the development of a vibrant and productive North Queensland rice industry.
“We’re in an exciting phase of establishing and growing a sustainable rice industry in North Queensland, which will also help to strengthen the local economy and the region’s farming communities,” Mr Hedditch said.
SunRice is also in the process of establishing a ‘Growers Services’ office at the Brandon Mill to strengthen the existing agronomic support the company provides to local growers.
The new office, which includes a lab for testing rice samples, will also be used by SunRice’s research and development subsidiary, Rice Research Australia Pty Ltd (RRAPL), which is running a number of rice variety trials across the region to maximise local growing options.
To make it easier for North Queensland growers to incorporate rice into their cropping systems, SunRice recently purchased a three metre John Deere 1590 Box Drill seeder from Vanderfields in Mackay, which is now available for hire for growers in Mackay and Proserpine.
“As a global paddock to plate food business with growing domestic and international demand for its clean, green rice products, SunRice offers North Queensland farmers agronomic support, an integrated supply chain, distribution network and international sales and marketing capability.
“Being a high value crop, rice can diversify and increase on-farm earnings along with improving soil nutrition and breaking disease cycles through crop rotation.
“Substantial research and development and grower extension expertise is being provided to North Queensland growers, and over time this investment is expected to help strengthen our ability to successfully target premium export markets and enable us to further diversify production of high quality Australian grown rice.
“Because of its favourable climatic condition, water supply and reliability, North Queensland is regarded as one of the most promising rice-growing areas outside of the Riverina.”