Lower Burdekin Water Quality Program
The Lower Burdekin Water Quality Program aims to prevent 48 tonnes of dissolved inorganic nitrogen and 35 kilograms of pesticides from entering the Reef's waters every year.
This $20.4 million investment under the Reef Trust Partnership is supporting a series of projects focused on substantially reducing dissolved organic nitrogen (DIN) and pesticide runoff, via a range of activities aimed at improving farming practices as well as through the construction of wetlands.
Projects will support growers in maximising profitability by delivering precision agriculture data and extension programs; customised farm pesticide management plans; end-of-field water quality monitoring; and nitrogen and irrigation use efficiencies. Constructed wetlands will be integrated with irrigation scheme infrastructure and cane production systems to further reduce DIN runoff, enhance wetland ecosystem function, and improve agricultural production outcomes.
Program delivery will be managed locally by NQ Dry Tropics, who have been appointed Regional Program Manager and Partnership Coordinator.
Sugar Research Australia
This project aims to transition growers to scalable, sustainable and technologically assisted practices in irrigation management, using a whole-of-systems approach that includes water quality validation. It aims to maximise industry profitability through optimised irrigation practices which directly influence other key farming system priorities. The project will be delivered by a consortium of cross-disciplinary stakeholders, which enables integration of existing relationships with growers, lessons learnt and practical outcomes across numerous water quality improvement projects.
Farmacist will support Burdekin sugarcane growers in using precision agricultural techniques to guide informed nutrient planning and management. Farm plans will be developed to identify constraints and increase productivity and profitability through targeted agronomic support for nitrogen use efficiencies (NUE). A range of activities including soil testing, amelioration maps, satellite yield variation imagery and agronomic support will be provided for 10,000 ha of sugar cane growing land. Growers will have opportunities and support for improving production and NUE.
Farmacist will build on the early learnings, momentum and success of Project Bluewater and will expand its footprint to cover an additional 18,758 ha of cane land, through direct engagement with ~100 growers. A technical expert will work with individual farms to develop customised farm pesticide management plans. Growers will be assisted to conduct end-of-field water quality monitoring on their own farms, with demonstration sites established to showcase improved pesticide management practice. Workshops, training and field days will upskill the region’s growers, resellers, contractors and extension staff.
Greening Australia will lead the construction and restoration of wetlands in the Lower Burdekin region. The project will significantly contribute to end-of-catchment water quality improvement targets, by preventing 9.1 tonnes of dissolved inorganic nitrogen runoff from leaving the catchment. Integrating with irrigation scheme infrastructure and cane production systems, this project will also create and enhance wetland habitat and ecosystem function and improve biodiversity and agricultural production outcomes.