sugar cane

Stepping stones to a rewarding career

Career pathways in sugar cane harvesting

The Australian sugar industry is among the world’s most efficient and innovative producers and exporters of sugar. It is also the leader in the adoption of sustainable farming practices.

Australia’s sugarcane is grown in high-rainfall and irrigated districts areas along coastal plains and river valleys on 2,100 km of Australia’s eastern coastline – between Mossman in far north Queensland and Grafton in NSW.

Queensland accounts for about 95 per cent of Australia’s raw sugar production, and NSW around 5 per cent.

More than 4,000 sugar growing farms operate along Australia’s eastern seaboard. While the average size of a cane farm is 100 hectares, some are in excess of 1,000 hectares. Advances in technology has seen the creation of large cane farming operations.

The Australian cane industry produces 30-35 million tonnes of cane a year, which when processed, equates to around 4-4.5 million tonnes of sugar.

Competent and skilled people are required for growing sugar cane crops:

  • Equipment and machinery operators for planting and harvesting
  • Farm hands for growing, maintaining and harvesting crops
  • Haulout operators to haul the crop out as it is harvested; drivers to transport the harvested crop for processing
  • Managers, supervisors, share farmers and cane farmers to run the property

Jobs and qualifications

Fieldhand Certificate I in Rural Operations »
Senior Fieldhand Certificate II in Agriculture »
Field Tradesperson Certificate III in Agriculture (Sugar Production) »
Advanced Field Tradesperson Certificate IV in Agriculture »
Farm Business Manager Diploma of Agriculture or Rural Business Management »
Rural Business Manager Advanced Diploma of Agriculture or Rural Business Management »

Sugar cane fieldhands are usually just starting a career and usually work for a haulout and harvesting contractor or a cane farmer, assisting with basic field duties, machinery and equipment operations and maintenance.

Senior Fieldhand

The sugar cane senior fieldhand is likely to be involved in a wide range of farming tasks under limited supervision.They work for a haulout and harvesting contractor or a cane farmer carrying out field duties. Tasks include operating tractors and equipment, chemical application, crop maintenance and farm maintenance.

Field Tradesperson

A sugar cane field tradesperson is likely to be coordinating a wide range of sugar cane cultivation and/or harvesting operations. They monitor cane production and harvesting, carry out farm maintenance, operate specialised machinery and equipment, coach workers, implement sustainable management practices, and communicate with sugar industry organisations, suppliers and contractors.

Advanced Field Tradesperson

The advanced field tradesperson helps to coordinate farm activities and workers engaged in a sugar cane production and/or sugar cane harvesting. Duties include the supervision of planting and crop maintenance activities, planning and coordination of haulout and harvesting operations, staff supervision and training, budget and stock control, and specialised machinery and equipment management.

Farm Business Manager

The farm business manager will have significant responsibilities for managing sugar cane farm activities, including property planning and management, crop management and production, staff management and business planning and operations.

Rural Business Manager

The rural business manager has the primary responsibility to ensure the sugar cane farm enterprise is successfully managed. The manager handles whole farm planning and management, manages production systems, marketing, strategic planning and enterprise management.