Burdekin growers successfully bid for $2.84 million to improve reef water quality

Burdekin sugar cane farmers have secured $2.84 million in Australian Government funding to reduce their surplus nitrogen levels and help  improve water quality on the Great Barrier Reef.

NQ Dry Tropics supported Burdekin sugar cane farmers to take part in a competitive tender process that was part of the Australian Government’s $140million Reef Trust initiative to provide innovative, targeted investments that improve the health and resilience of the Great Barrier Reef.

Seventeen successful bids offer a range of cost-effective investments that will make progress towards the pollutant reduction targets set out in the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan.

NQ Dry Tropics CEO, Dr Scott Crawford, said he was pleased with the outcome of the tender process, and he believes that the success of the current Burdekin tender will provide an excellent foundation for future nutrient tenders in the region.

“NQ Dry Tropics worked closely with the growers to guide them through the bidding process,” Dr Crawford said.

“Through the actions of the contracted growers, the nitrogen losses from these farms will be reduced by nearly 500 tonnes. This is a win for both the reef and the successful growers,” he said.

Dr Crawford praised the growers who submitted tenders. “Such was the high quality of tenders submitted by growers, that Minister Hunt topped up the available funding to ensure all cost-effective offers where supported,” he added.

The Reef Trust Tender-Burdekin provided the opportunity for growers to design a nitrogen surplus reduction project tailored to their farming system, and bid for funding to implement it.

NQ Dry Tropics worked closely with its project partner organisations, Burdekin Productivity Services, Farmacist Burdekin, Agritech Solutions and the Burdekin Bowen Integrated Floodplain Management Advisory Committee (BBIFMAC) to support sugar cane farmers through the bidding process.

The projects are expected to provide important flow-on benefits that extend beyond their three-year duration, such as demonstrating the effectiveness of improved fertiliser management practices.