Cane growers ‘rescuing reef’
DOZENS of local cane growers are leading the way in helping protect the Great Barrier Reef by adopting improvements to farming methods and chemical use.
The Federal Government’s Reef Rescue initiative has just released its latest report card which shows the benefits of subsidising farmers to implement environmentallyfriendly initiatives.
The Reef Rescue Impact Statement revealed that 2.7 million hectares of farming land in Queensland is under improved management practices through Reef Rescue, or 71 per cent of the target just three years into the five-year plan.
The partnership between Queensland’s regional natural resource management groups, agriculture industry bodies and the Federal Government has seen $200 million invested in improved farming practices so far.
Reef Rescue works by co-investing with land managers to give them an incentive to update machinery or infrastructure and to improve their management techniques.
Mossman Agricultural Services CEO Daryl Parker said the efforts of local cane farmers have resulted in a dramatic drop in the amount of run-off that can be potentially harmful to the reef.
“In the past most farmers used to use the more residual type of fertilisers which impacted far more on the reef but with the advent of knock-down herbicides there is far less impact,” he said.
“As an example, a split-stool fertiliser box has been developed and is buried within the cane rows and this offers a far greater benefit in run-off containment and also offers more nutrient enrichment to the soil.”
Terrain NRM CEO Allan Dale, who helps facilitate funding in the Far North, said good farming and conservation practices were merging due largely to advancements in technology.
“Significant advances in the way that chemicals are used and applied to crops has been achieved in the past three years along with advances in nutrient technology on many properties,” Mr Dale said.
“This has seen a radical reduction in chemical run-off - by as much as 50 percent in many cases - and this in-turn means less harmful chemical run-off flowing to the reef.”