Farmers given cash to protect our reef
CLOSE to 20 local farmers from the region are benefiting from the Reef Rescue grants program which assists farmers to upgrade their farming practices to reduce pollution to the Great Barrier Reef.
Over 200 farmers in North Queensland recently received government grants amounting to $3.5 million to pay for improvements to the way they manage their farms.
Nine projects from the Mossman and Daintree area were submitted, six were funded, including two large mill area projects.
CEO of Mossman’s Agriculture Services Darryl Parker applied for the Reef Rescue Grants in the first round to purchase a fertiliser box and shielded sprayer to improve herbicide management.
“We applied for the grant in 2008 on behalf of the smaller sugarcane farm growers in the community. Farmers are able to use the fertiliser box and the shielded sprayer when they need it,” he said.
The fertiliser box buries the fertiliser under the ground as opposed to it sitting on the surface of the soil, which prevents the fertiliser from moving or washing down into the drains when early rain hits the sugarcane.
“This benefits us as the fertiliser is not washed away, but is also benefits the reef as none of the chemicals are washed into the ocean,” Mr Parker said.
Chemicals such as Roundup can kill the sugarcane therefore farmers use a shielded sprayer to effectively spray weeds without damaging any of the cane.
Last year 132 projects in the far north were funded by the program and this year the number of grants increased by 50 per cent.
Program Officer Fiona George says that Terrain encourages farmers who have not received grants before to apply.
“We are really pleased to see farmers applying for Reef Rescue grants that hadn’t previously been funded. This year 203 farmers received incentive grants for the first time in North Queensland, taking the number of farmers funded by this program to over 500,” she said.
“The funding grants are a win-win for farmers and the environment, as they not only rescue the impact on rivers and streams but environmental benefits are achieved through farm efficiencies as well.”
Mossman’s Agriculture Services received 50 per cent off the funding for both the fertiliser box ($15 000) and shielded sprayer ($11 000).
“I believe that the Reef Rescue grants are a great idea as it has given smaller growers the confidence to apply for the equipment themselves after discovering that the gear worked well for them,” Mr Parker said.