Growers raise a glass to celebrate 2019 achievements

Another successful year

MORE than 70 cane growers, extension staff, contractors and suppliers were hosted by NQ Dry Tropics at an End Of Year celebration in the Burdekin Theatre this week.

Sustainable Agriculture Manager at NQ Dry Tropics Rob Hunt said there was plenty to celebrate.

“This year, at the conclusion of the Reef Alliance Project, it’s worth reflecting on how much we have achieved together,” he said.

Growers have enthusiastically joined with extension staff to improve profitability on their farms at the same time improving water quality flowing into the Great Barrier Reef lagoon downstream, he said.

Improved irrigation efficiency and reducing runoff through the Reef Alliance Project (RAP) had a dramatic impact.

The project, which began in 2016 and concluded this year, prevented more than 90 tonnes of Dissolved Inorganic Nitrogen (DIN) from reaching the reef.

Simultaneously, through the Reef Trust Tenders project, nitrogen applied to crops as fertiliser was reduced by more than 600,000 tonnes since 2016.

Mr Hunt said a large percentage of the growers in the Burdekin (435 growers) had been engaged in the RAP receiving  almost 10,000 hours of one-on-one support. 

There were 288 irrigation improvement plans,  25 nutrient management plans developed, 780ha of automated irrigation installed, and improved management practices affecting more than 20,000ha.

“The really exciting thing is that growers have realised the gains that can be made by lowering input costs and continue to push the envelope,” Mr Hunt said.

“They are improving their irrigation efficiency and exceeding their nitrogen reduction targets without sacrificing yield.”

Wetlands, Waterways and Coasts Senior Project Officer Scott Fry updated guests on the progress of two projects — the Queensland Government-funded Reducing Burdekin Sediments project, focusing mainly on Saltwater Creek, and the Australian Government-funded Bowling Green Bay Ramsar project.

Mr Fry played a short video to help explain an innovation — funded by Evolution Mining — to mechanically remove weed chokes from waterways and recycle them as compost on commercial farms.