Early Investment Grants
Significant on-ground resources are required to deliver activities to make progress towards water quality targets. Agricultural extension and agronomy services are recognised as being fundamental to improved long-term land management. This first funding released under the Reef Trust Partnership was via a round of water quality grants, focused on projects that would maintain or build on-ground delivery capacity throughout the Reef catchments. Around $20 million was committed to projects under this workstream. As well as laying the foundation for future regional water quality programs, the projects will also deliver direct reductions in pollutant loads, contributing towards the Reef 2050 water quality objectives.
#What happens next?
Eleven projects were contracted in early 2019 and are currently underway. These projects focus on reducing pollution from fine sediment, dissolved inorganic nitrogen, and pesticides within moderate, high, and very high priority Reef catchments. Most of the projects are scheduled to run for two years.
Qld Cane Growers Organisation Ltd
Region: Wet Tropics, Mackay, Burdekin and Southern Reef catchment regions
This behaviour change program uses co-design principals to elicit improved practises through accreditation in the SmartCane Best Management Program and other forms of ‘commitment’ towards improved practices. This phase of the project will build on the existing program in the Wet Tropics and initiate new programs in Mackay, Burdekin and Southern Regions.
Sugar Research Australia
Region: Mossman, Mulgrave-Russell, Johnstone, Murray, Herbert and Haughton catchments
Works on farm with small cane grower groups to address nitrogen and pesticides. The program breaks down the barriers between scientists and growers, maximises peer-to-peer learning opportunities and improves understanding of the drivers of water quality impacts.
Queensland Farmers' Federation
Region: Very high, high and moderate priority Reef catchments as outlined in the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan (from Burdekin to the Burnett Mary)
This project will increase the delivery capacity related to agronomic extension by training early career extension officers (agricultural experts) in practices relevant to addressing sediment, nitrogen and pesticide runoff. The project will involve a 12-month placement of up to eight early career extension officers.
Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee
Region: Mary River catchment
Addresses sediment discharge to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon through gully restoration on grazing land. The project will also work with graziers to increase awareness and actively manage lands that are susceptible to erosion through the adoption of best land management practices.
Region: Lower Burdekin
This project aims to reduce the amount of sediment discharging to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon by approximately 3,200 tons per annum through remediation of alluvial gullies by using established techniques. In addition, the project will aim to pilot the Reef Credit system and investigate how Reef Credits could be used to fund gully remediation works and ongoing maintenance requirements.
Farmacist Pty Ltd
Region: Haughton, Pioneer and O’Connell Rivers and Plane Creek catchment areas
This project reduces the runoff of pesticides into the Great Barrier Reef lagoon through the adoption of improved sugar cane farming practices. The project will directly engage over 70 growers, managing over 12,000 ha of land, in the catchments of Haughton, Pioneer, O’Connell Rivers, and Plane Creek identified as high priority in the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan.
An Evidence Based Approach to Improving Water Quality in Barratta Creek Catchment (Stage 2)
Region: Barrata Creek System (Burdekin River Irrigation Area)
Farmer (cane) led project which raises awareness and drives practice change through improved fertiliser application, modifying pesticide type and quantity and improving irrigation efficiency.
Catchment Solutions Pty Ltd
Region: Wet Tropics, Burdekin and Mackay/Whitsunday regions
Supports a network of cane farmers in the Reef catchments to improve farming practices to reduce nutrient run off to the Reef. This is achieved by focusing on soil testing, nutrient management plans and implementation of controlled traffic management systems (reducing soil compaction by confining heavy machinery to permanent traffic lanes).
Resource Consulting Services Australia
Region: Very high, high and moderate priority Reef catchments as outlined in the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan
Project Pioneer promotes the adoption of regenerative grazing operations to increase ground cover in grazing lands and reduce sediment in runoff to the Great Barrier Reef. In addition to the improved water quality entering the waters of the Great Barrier Reef, other environmental outcomes include reduction in carbon loss from soils, increased biodiversity on-farm, particularly soil and aquatic life, and increased landscape resilience to the effects of climate change.
Queensland Farmers' Federation
Region: Very high, high and moderate priority Reef catchments as outlined in the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan (Wet Tropics, Burdekin, Mackay/Whitsundays, Fitzroy and Burnett Mary)
Supports cane farmers and graziers by using one-to-one agricultural experts (extension officers) to move 462 land holders, covering 209,750 ha, towards best practice to reduce sediment, nitrogen and pesticides.
NQ Dry Tropics
This project will produce dedicated and specific education, training, capacity building and incentives that will take 12 grazing landholders on a progressive journey towards techniques that proactively manage stock grazing pressure and minimise the potential for declining land condition leading to reduced sediment runoff. The project will also result in a further 50 landholders using increased knowledge and skills to apply management changes to improve the quality of water discharged from their property.