New program to support lower Burdekin farmers and improve Reef health

A newly-launched program will support farmers to improve management practices and adopt new technologies – while improving the quality of water flowing into the Great Barrier Reef lagoon.

NQ Dry Tropics has been engaged to develop and oversee the four-year Lower Burdekin Regional Water Quality Program, in partnership with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

NQ Dry Tropics’ Sustainable Agriculture Program Manager, Rob Hunt, said the program would harness local knowledge to shape the direction of water quality investment in the lower Burdekin.

“NQ Dry Tropics will be working closely with regional partners to coordinate the delivery of sustainable irrigation, nutrient and pesticide management practices to achieve water quality targets,” Mr Hunt said.

“NQ Dry Tropics has more than a decade of experience working with cane farmers to implement practices that benefit the bottom line and the environment.

“Now we have the chance to build on those successes by coordinating better local collaboration to maximise long-term water quality outcomes.

“We believe that involving local partners in the design, planning and delivery of the regional program will help ensure maximum support and adoption,” Mr Hunt said.

The regional program aims to improve reef water quality by reducing annual dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) loads by 48,000 kg and pesticides by 35 kg. It will also benefit the local economy and help to build strong relationships between all stakeholders.

The NQ Dry Tropics Sugar Team: (L-R) Luke Malan (Team Leader), Shakira Todd (Project Officer), Michael Hobbs (Project Officer)

Great Barrier Reef Foundation Managing Director Anna Marsden said the Foundation was looking forward to working with NQ Dry Tropics to deliver this important regional water quality program.

“A healthy Reef needs clean water, which is why improving water quality from land-based run-off is so important to the health of our global icon,” Ms Marsden said.

“NQ Dry Tropics has a strong track record of working with landholders and others in the local community who are committed to making a positive difference to Reef health and this program will build on some of the great initiatives underway and bring forward new on-ground activities proposed for the Townsville region.”

The regional water quality improvement program is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

NQ Dry Tropics Sustainable Agriculture Program Manager Rob Hunt