Sustainable Agriculture Program

The vision of the Sustainable Agriculture Program is resilient landscapes and productive enterprises, agricultural producers maximising outputs while minimising environmental impacts.

The Sustainable Agriculture Program aims to support and empower producers in the use of best management practices for natural resource management within the agricultural industries of the Burdekin Dry Tropics NRM Region. This is done through:

  • planning for the sustainable management of land and water resources;
  • managing and delivering programs that help protect, maintain and restore land and water resources; enhancing the capacity of the community to manage for sustainability;
  • sharing knowledge;
  • promoting learning, continuous improvement and best practice; and
  • developing partnerships.

The Sustainable Agriculture Program works across the region providing information, training and assistance to graziers through workshops, training and grants to enhance the capacity of farmers and graziers to manage their land sustainably.

The Sustainable Agriculture team supports the delivery of innovation, training, extension and water quality improvement grants for sugar-related projects in the Burdekin Dry Tropics region. At a broad level, these projects are aimed at supporting and facilitating:

  • an improved understanding of the links between management practices and the condition of natural resources, particularly in relation to catchment and reef water quality;
  • the adoption of best management practices for water quality management; and
  • the management of a financial incentives scheme for growers.

Sustainable Agriculture current projects

Reefwise Grazing of Burdekin Rangelands

The Reefwise grazing of Burdekin Rangelands project is delivered to graziers within the high sediment yielding sub-catchments of the Upper and Lower Burdekin rangelands. It is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef FoundationBuilding on the momentum achieved through the Reef Trust 1 Saving Our Soils (Promotion of A-Class grazing) project, Reefwise Grazing of Burdekin Rangelands will support 12 graziers to adopt whole of property management strategies that support improved water quality.  Read more..

Stomping out Sediment in the Burdekin

Funded through Australian Government Reef Trust Phase IV investment to help deliver the Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan, NQ Dry Tropics is  working with up to 10 grazing properties in targeted Burdekin catchments over five years, starting in July 2017 and ending in July 2022. The project is for the long-term protection and conservation of the Great Barrier Reef. Read more..

Paddock to Reef

The Paddock to Reef Integrated Monitoring, Modelling and Reporting Program (Paddock to Reef program) is a collaborative program designed to collect and integrate data on agricultural management, catchment indicators and loads, and the health of the Great Barrier Reef. Read more..

Reef Alliance Project (RAP) – Growing a Great Barrier Reef – RAP Burdekin Grazing Project - Phase I

NQ Dry Tropics Sustainable Agriculture programme is delivering extension, training and Reef Water Quality Grants as part of the Reef Alliance – Growing a Great Barrier Reef  programme funded by the Australian Government Reef Trust through the Queensland Farmers Federation (QFF) and a partnership between AgForce, Cape York NRM, NQ Dry Tropics, Fitzroy Basin Association and Burnett Mary Regional Group. Read more..

Reef Alliance Project (RAP) – Growing a Great Barrier Reef – RAP Burdekin Cane Project - Phase I

NQ Dry Tropics Sustainable Agriculture program is delivering extension, training and Reef Water Quality Grants as part of the Reef Alliance – Growing a Great Barrier Reef  programme funded by the Australian Government Reef Trust through the Queensland Farmers Federation (QFF) and a partnership between CANEGROWERS, NQ Dry Tropics,  Terrain NRM and the Burnett Mary Regional Group.  Read more..

Reef Alliance Project (RAP) – Growing a Great Barrier Reef – RAP Burdekin Cane Project - Phase II

This voluntary project assists cane growers to improve management practices and productivity, while also reducing nutrient and pesticide runoff to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon. Delivered by our Sustainable Agriculture team, the project offers cane growers extension, training and Reef water quality incentives to improve efficiency, and help the Reef build resilience against the impacts of climate change and natural disasters.

Read more..

PatchKey Rangeland Monitoring

The PatchKey methodology has been developed by CSIRO as a rangeland biophysical monitoring tool. Prior funding has been utilised to adapt existing software to NQ Dry Tropics requirements, purchase equipment, train field staff and initial data collection.  Read more..

Sustainable Agriculture completed projects

Sustainable Soils for the Burdekin (2013-2018)

The project builds on existing relationships with industry, local government, Traditional Owners and Landcare groups to strengthen the understanding of soil health and management within the grazing and grower community in the Burdekin catchment.  Read more..

Point Source Sediment Management (2016-2019)

The Point Source Sediment Management in the Burdekin Dry Tropics NRM region – East Burdekin and Bowen-Broken-Bogie projects supported graziers to make changes to management practices to reduce sediment losses and improve the quality of water entering the reef, building on the outcomes of Reef Trust Phase I. Read more..

Project Catalyst (2016-2019)

The primary purpose of Project Catalyst was to reduce the environmental footprint that sugarcane production has on freshwater quality and the Great Barrier Reef by speeding the evolution of cutting edge farming practices in the sugar industry. Project Catalyst was a project supported through the Coca-Cola Foundation (TCCF) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) since 2009. Project Catalyst covered 3 of the reef catchments including Wet Tropics, Burdekin Tropics (since 2010) and the Mackay/Whitsundays and was delivered by the Regional NRM bodies in these regions.

Read more..

Building Resilience in the Burdekin Grazing Industry (2013-2018)

The Building Resilience in the Burdekin Grazing Industry project was funded through the Queensland Government Natural Resource Management Investment Program 2013-14 to 2017-2018. The project trialed innovative grazing practices to improve land condition, water resources and environmental assets.

Read more..

Reef Programme (2008-2013)

From 2008-2013 the Australian Government invested over $32 million into grazing/farming communities within the Burdekin Dry Tropics region to assist with practice changes that will reduce sediment, nutrients and pesticides leaving farms and entering the Great Barrier Reef Lagoon. 

Read more..

Gamechanger Project (2013-2016)

The Fast tracking adoption of game changing sugarcane nutrient and pesticide management practices project was a 3 year project (2013-2016) funded through the Australian Government Reef Programme.

Read more..

Reef Trust Tender I – Burdekin Cane Industry (2013-2016)

The Reef Trust Tender – Burdekin Cane Industry was an Australian Government initiative to improve the quality of water entering the Great Barrier Reef and support the sustainability of the sugarcane industry in the Burdekin.  The project aimed to protect and conserve the Great Barrier Reef by addressing the issue of nitrogen discharge from the Burdekin region.

Read more..

Saving Our Soils Project (2015-2018)

Saving Our Soils was a project partnership delivered by the Fitzroy Basin Association (FBA)and NQ Dry Tropics. The three-year project (2015-2018) was funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust in collaboration with the Queensland Government and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Read more..

Gully Prioritisation (2017-2018)

The main outcome of this project was to develop a gully prioritisation methodology to inform future investment in gully remediation works that can be implemented immediately using available information and resources.

Read more..

Grazing BMP Project (2014-2017)

The Grazing BMP program was developed from the collaborative efforts of the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (QDAFF)Fitzroy Basin Association (FBA) and AgForce Queensland.

Read more..

Tackling gully erosion

Video outlines range of gully strategies

When tackling soil erosion on grazing lands, it’s important to treat both the cause and symptoms.

NQ Dry Tropics works closely with landholders on strategies that promote better pasture cover, and help hydrate landscapes by retaining rain on property, slowing it down and spreading it out across paddocks.

This video showcases five different techniques that have been used to remediate eroded gullies, and all of them consider the bigger picture by incorporating improvements in land management.

A big thank you to the graziers who took part in the film – Shane Watts, Sonoma, Keith Atkinson, Camel Creek, Paul Rowe, Riverview, Owen Howard, Hell’s Gate and Chris LeFeuvre, Worona.

These projects were funded through Australian Department of the Environment and Energy Reef Trust.

Factsheets

Case Study Videos

With much of the region continuing to suffer from drought, an increasing number of graziers are looking for ways to build resilience into their businesses by maintaining good pasture levels and improving land condition. NQ Dry Tropics’ three-year (2013-2016) Building Resilience in the Burdekin Grazing Industry project, funded through the Queensland Government’s Regional NRM Investment Program, has been supporting three grazing families, managing a combined area of 56,000ha, to take part in a long-term trial of the Holistic Management approach to looking after their business and their land.


Barry and Leanne O’Sullivan, who run Glenalpine Station near Bowen, have derived multiple benefits from high-density grazing. They won a 2014 Rural Queensland Premier’s Sustainability Award for their achievements. Check out their story.

Shane and Amanda Watts own and manage Sonoma Station, a 14,400-hectare property near Collinsville. Hear Shane explain how Holistic management, which advocates resting country for long periods, has led to a huge increase in pasture diversity.

Watch how Barry and Leanne O’Sullivan successfully rehabilitated a gully on their Glenalpine Property, using ultra high-density cattle impact to thoroughly break down the headcut and the sides, and achieve a layer of manure and urine slurry about an inch thick spread across the gully system.

Tom and Karen Murphy own and operate Tabletop, their 18,970 ha property near Collinsville, alongside daughter Nikki and partner Harry Howard. Check out their story about how practical, cost effective and innovative approaches to land management have impacted their business.