Lower Burdekin Water Quality Program

Sound agronomic and water quality advice underpinning enduring catchment-scale improvement.

Umbrella approach to extension and water quality

NQ Dry Tropics is spearheading a co-ordinated series of projects in the Lower Burdekin aimed at improving on-farm efficiency and wetland health to further improve water quality reaching the Great Barrier Reef.

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

The program will also help farmers ensure they are compliant with the Queensland Reef Water Quality Regulations, effective from December, 2019.

NQ Dry Tropics has been appointed by GBRF to manage the design of the program and ensure the projects are delivered in a coordinated manner.

These projects are being delivered by local service providers.

They are:

Major Grants project

NQ Dry Tropics’ Major Grants project encouraged growers to invest in equipment, technology or agronomic services to reduce the amount of nitrogen fertiliser applied to their crop. Some opted for Stool Zippas .

Innovation Field Day

Lower Burdekin cane growers heard about the “latest and greatest” innovations available to improve efficiency, profitability and sustainability at a Field Day on Aaron Linton’s Home Hill farm recently.

Celebrating a successful year

There was plenty of festive fun and laughter at the Burdekin Theatre last week as nearly
60 growers, extension officers and service providers attended the NQ Dry Tropics End Of Year Sugar Celebration.

Burdekin Irrigation Project (BIP)

Increasing Industry Productivity and Profitability Through Transformational, Whole of Systems Sugarcane Approaches that Deliver Water Quality Benefits

Led by Sugar Research Australia (SRA), the Burdekin Irrigation Project will be delivered by a consortium of extension providers:

• Agritech Solutions,
• Burdekin Productivity Services (BPS),
• Farmacist,
• Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF),
• Sugar Research Australia, and
• James Cook University.

The BIP aims to:

  • Transition growers to proven world class, scalable, sustainable and technologically advanced practices in irrigation management.
  • Take a whole-of-systems approach that includes water quality monitoring to ensure other priority issues such as improving nutrient and pesticide management are captured.
  • Maximise industry profitability through smarter irrigation practices.
  • Standardise the process of grower engagement, to a powerful, multi-partnered and cooperative approach that will deliver more value to growers, investors and industry stakeholders.
  • Work across organisations to maximise outcomes from strategic coordination, collaborative linkages and consistent messaging.
Farmacist — Nutrient

Precision to Decision – Nutrient

This project will help to improve efficiencies by applying Precision Agriculture and it will provide growers with nutrient management plans to fine-tune application rates of nitrogen and phosphorous.

Defined management zones for crop yield potential will be developed using data from technologies such as Electrical Conductivity (EC) or Electromagnetic (EM) soil mapping coupled with Satellite Yield mapping to inform management decisions.

Growers will be provided access to previously unavailable data giving them a foundation for the introduction of Precision Agriculture (PA) to assist with nutrient management, soil, irrigation and chemical decision support.

This will improve production and profitability and ensure nutrient and pesticides are applied effectively, ultimately reducing the risk to the Great Barrier Reef.

Farmacist — Pesticide

Project Bluewater 2 – Pesticide

Through targeted science, extension and education, this project focuses on reducing the quantities of active ingredients applied, shifting to lower-toxicity products, shifting from residual herbicide to knockdown herbicide dominated programs and upgrading and improving application equipment and techniques.

Pesticide management decisions for canegrubs will shift to an approach that involves monitoring crop damage and economic risk assessments to avoid excessive application of imidacloprid.

Growers will be encouraged when applying grub control liquid formulations to ensure coulter slots are completely closed or covered in.

Customised farm pesticide management plans, developed with qualified and experienced agronomists and individual on-farm pesticide extension support, will foster implementation of integrated weed management through the fallow and entire sugarcane crop cycle. The plan considers soil types, slope, drainage water flows, weed pressures, cane grub pressure, pesticide selection guidance for lower ecotoxicity products and plans to move to knockdown herbicide programs.