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End Of Year function for Burdekin cane growers

The crop was all but harvested and crushed and the excellent early rain made it too wet to work, so Burdekin cane growers were keen to welcome in the festive season with an early Christmas dinner recently.

Hosted by NQ Dry Tropics, about 90 people — from growers to millers as well as industry support specialists and extension workers — sat down to dinner in the foyer of the Burdekin Theatre on Thursday night.

Some of the projects on offer for growers in the Lower Burdekin during 2021 were outlined during the short formal part of the evening before dinner was served.

NQ Dry Tropics’ Senior Project Officer Shakira Todd listed some of the activities conducted under the Restoring the Bowling Green Bay Ramsar Wetlands project.

They included:

  • weed control;
  • feral pig control;
  • riparian vegetation management and restoration;
  • marine debris removal;
  • fish ladders; and
  • System Management Plans for eight waterways.

Mika Rowston and Heidi Hatch from Farmacist updated the gathering on the progress of Project Bluewater, delivering more efficient pesticide management and their Precision to Decision project using an array of modern data to make informed nutrient decisions.

They said in 2022 there would be 40 Project Bluewater spaces available and opportunity for 35 farms to be involved in the Precision to Decision project.

The biggest undertaking, the Burdekin Irrigation Project delivered by a consortium of organisations including Farmacist, Burdekin Productivity Services, Agritech Solutions, Burdekin Bowen Integrated Floodplain Management Advisory Committee, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, NQ Dry Tropics and James Cook University is led by Sugar Research Australia (SRA).

District manager of SRA Burdekin Terry Granshaw said the delivery partners hoped next year to add 28 farms to the 24 that joined this year to help them maximise the effectiveness of their irrigation systems.

He said the consortium approach meant growers could choose their preferred delivery provider and get an individual tailored solution for their farm.

NQ Dry Tropics’ Sustainable Agriculture Program Manager Rob Hunt told the gathering there were many opportunities to get involved with the Lower Burdekin Water Quality Program managed by NQ Dry Tropics and funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

Mr Hunt said in the New Year growers only had to put their hand up to get involved in a wide range of projects aimed at improving the quality of water that reaches the Great Barrier Reef as well as farm efficiency and resilience.

The Lower Burdekin Water Quality Program is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.