MACKAY Whitsunday cane growers commit time and money to improve the Great Barrier Reef’s water quality.
The Mackay Whitsunday Isaac Sustainable Agriculture Cane Project is aiming to improve the quality of water entering the Great Barrier Reef lagoon by targeting reductions in nutrient and herbicide loads and facilitating the adoption of management practice change.
Funding for this project is provided by the Australian Government under the Reef Trust Phase 3 Investment Program.
Led by Reef Catchments, this project began in July 2016 and will end in June 2019. The project is fully subscribed and has reached its grower participation target.
Our region’s cane growers are to be complimented for their commitment of their own time, resources and money to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
Some 244 growers, farming 35,587ha of cane, have actively participated in the project and taken up the opportunity to access $838,000 worth of major grants to assist with equipment upgrades that fast-track practice change to improve nutrient and herbicide management.
Growers have contributed a minimum of 60 per cent of their own funds, with Reef Catchments providing 40 per cent to a maximum of $15,000.
Examples of equipment upgrades for which farmers have received grants include:
■ Spray rig upgrades and high-rise tractors that reduce the use of residual herbicide
■ Variable rate fertiliser controllers that target the actual yield on individual cane blocks, e.g. late harvest and late ratoons.
Each grower has also had the option to access a small grant of $1500 to assist with purchase of upgrades to spray equipment, conduct soil tests, EM Mapping and G-Dots.
Extension and planning for nutrient and herbicide management has been provided to each grower via local service providers MAPS, PCPSL, Farmacist and Soil and Land Surveys.
Training, workshops and field days have been held to support the project by providing practical applications for improved nutrient and herbicide application strategies.
A selection of grower case studies are available on the Reef Catchments’ website.
The Reef Trust 3 project is a collaboration of growers, industry, Reef Catchments and the Australian Government working together to improve productivity and ensure the sustainability of the cane industry.