Im­prov­ing farm prac­tices

Whitsunday Times - - WHITSUNDAY NEWS AND VIEWS -

ABOUT 150 people gath­ered at a Fox­dale farm be­long­ing to Lou, Betty and Gary Rai­teri for the start of Project Cat­a­lyst this week.

Now five years old, Project Cat­a­lyst is an ini­tia­tive be­tween cane grow­ers and ma­jor pro­gram part­ners in­clud­ing the Aus­tralian Govern­ment, World Wildlife Foun­da­tion (WWF), Coca-Cola Foun­da­tion, Reef Catch­ments, NQ Dry Trop­ics and Ter­rain Nat­u­ral Re­source Man­age­ment.

The pro­gram aims to pro­mote the rapid adop­tion of in­no­va­tive farm prac­tices that im­prove wa­ter qual­ity from cane farms im­pact­ing the Great Bar­rier Reef.

Project Cat­a­lyst sup­ports a net­work of farm­ers from the Mackay, Whit­sun­day, Bur­dekin and Wet Trop­ics re­gions who are leading the way in the use of cut­ting-edge man­age­ment prac­tices for a more sus­tain­able and ef­fec­tive farm­ing fu­ture.

To date, Project Cat­a­lyst grow­ers have col­lec­tively re­duced the amount of pes­ti­cides and nutrient runoff from farms to the reef by over 60 tonnes per year. Mr Rai­teri who hosted Mon­day’s Project Cat­a­lyst field day, has been in­volved with the pro­gram since it be­gan.

“To me, it just fits in with what we’re try­ing to do, to im­prove our sus­tain­abil­ity and pro­duc­tiv­ity and be more con­scious of the en­vi­ron­ment,” he said.

“I’m a third gen­er­a­tion grower, my fam­ily has been on the same property for over 85 years and my son is com­ing on to take care of the farm. This land is still tak­ing care of us af­ter all that time and I think it is our re­spon­si­bil­ity to look af­ter what we have.”

Fol­low­ing Mon­day’s field trip, Project Cat­a­lyst par­tic­i­pants headed to Hamil­ton Is­land for a two-day fo­rum in­clud­ing work­shops and pre­sen­ta­tions from key­note speak­ers such as WWF vice pres­i­dent of agri­cul­ture Dave McLaugh­lin.

Mr Rai­teri said Project Cat­a­lyst brought to­gether like-minded grow­ers with enthusiasm who were all ready to try some­thing new.

“It gives us the sup­port we need to step out and raise the bar and chal­lenge our­selves – we can look up and say ‘ok, there’s the bench- mark’ and we find new ways to reach it. It’s ab­so­lutely re­mark­able what comes out of it,” he said.

FOR­WARD think­ing: Lou Rai­teri (su­gar grower), Michelle Allen (Coca Cola), Will Higham (Reef Catch­ments) and Dave McLaugh­lin (WWF vice pres­i­dent of agri­cul­ture) were at Mr Rai­teri's farm on Mon­day for the start of 'Project Cat­a­lyst'.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.