Cane grow­ers ‘res­cu­ing reef’

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - BUSINESS - PAUL MIL­TON BUT­LER

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.”

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