Reef Trust Tenders – Burdekin project

Burdekin sugarcane growers save on nitrogen without sacrificing production

tonnes of Nitrogen saved

tonnes of Urea saved.

kg/ha average Nitrogen reduction

Community culture shift
is invaluable


This innovative program supported 50 Burdekin cane growers across six years to dramatically reduce fertiliser use without losing yield.

More important than the amount of nitrogen (N) with the potential to affect the Great Barrier Reef as Dissolved Inorganic Nitrogen (DIN) removed from the landscape is the growing realisation that it is possible to increase profitability by reducing fertilisation rates.

Growers achieved this by using science to more accurately match fertiliser application rates with the requirements of the crop each year.

NQ Dry Tropics delivered the project which was funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

The investment of $11.2m across six years generated a spectacular Return On Investment as farmers reduced potential DIN in waterways to a value of more than $39m (calculated using the Reef Trust Risk price per kilogram of DIN).

The figures showed less fertiliser was good for the environment but they also revealed a cost-saving for farmers of more than $85ha per year, about $6.8m across the Lower Burdekin district.

Find out how to get involved in a water quality project here. There are many opportunities to get support to optimise irrigation, nutrient or pesticide use or all three.