Mackay-Whitsunday Water Quality Program
The Mackay Whitsunday Water Quality Program aims to improve the quality of water flowing from the Pioneer, Plane Creek, O’Connell and Proserpine catchments. The program is aiming to stop at least 26 tonnes of dissolved inorganic nitrogen and about 3 million risk units of pesticides from entering the Reef’s waters every year.
The program is focused on working with landholders in the cane industry to improve nutrient management, pesticide management, and irrigation practices while also improving productivity and profitability. Growers will receive agronomic and technical support, as well as limited financial incentives, to address barriers to change. The program aims to establish enduring economic drivers to maintain best practice that will lead to ongoing water quality improvement.
A total of $22.2 million has been allocated under the Reef Trust Partnership to this program. Program delivery will be managed by the Reef Catchments, which has been appointed to the roles of regional program manager and partnership coordinator.
The Mackay-Whitsunday Water Quality Program: Regional Program Plan and Communications and Stakeholder Engagement Plan will guide the project and engagement activities for the Mackay-Whitsunday Program. The Regional Program Plan is the umbrella document for the Regional Program. It provides background and outlines the objectives, scope and governance arrangements established for the program. It also includes a detailed program logic and a description of all projects included in the Program.
Building on the early learnings, momentum and success of the pilot Project Bluewater 1 by reducing pesticide loads and expanding its footprint to cover an additional 21,450 hectares of cane land (about 165 growers) in the Plane Creek and Pioneer River catchments. This expanded proposal includes tailored pesticide management plans, equipment calibration and upgrades, end of field water sampling of blocks and demonstration trial sites, and a cooperative, interactive learning approach. Extension activities will foster reduced pesticide use and selection of lower risk pesticides to reduce the amount of pollutants flowing to our Reef.
Precision agriculture project, a Point of Difference – Refining Farm Nutrient Management Strategies, is providing a pathway and a framework for enhanced economic and environmental sustainability in the sugarcane sector. The objective of the project is to fast track the delivery of essential base data and an extension program designed to have adoption of refined nutrient and chemical management to levels beyond regulations in order to improve the quality of water flowing to our Reef.
Reef Catchments Ltd
Supporting the administration of a pool of funds to be made available for growers to implement activities that improve the quality of water flowing from the Mackay Whitsundays region.
Sugar Research Australia
Building on the early learnings and accelerating the adoption of improved nutrient and pesticide management strategies that contribute to the reduction of dissolved inorganic nitrogen and pesticides. Underlying objectives to achieve water quality improvements are focussed on active buy-in and ownership of water quality issues by growers, increased skills and knowledge relating to water quality, active engagement to assess farm practices and impacts on water quality, and grower-led demonstrations of practices that promote pollutant reductions.
Improving nutrient and chemical management and supporting the uptake of tested methods and farm management practices with sugarcane growers in the Mackay/Sarina region, who have not previously been active in the innovation or early adoption category. Ongoing support is also being provided to growers to facilitate continuous improvement. The goal of this project is to reduce the environmental footprint, enhance crop production and increase farm viability within sugarcane production systems in the Reef catchments.
Delivering a paradigm shift in the level of actionable insight and accessibility of key information for growers of all levels of digital maturity, resulting in significant farm productivity gains and water quality improvement outcomes. Growers will have farm, soil, nutrient and performance data at their fingertips via the LAND Grower App and will receive agronomic support including optimised nutrient management plans, opportunities for industry-leading dissolved inorganic nitrogen reduction and advice on sustainable farm management.
CANEGROWERS Mackay Ltd
Assisting growers to optimise energy consumption and water use efficiency to increase productivity, profitability and to mitigate nutrient and chemical losses with improved irrigation management strategies. This will be achieved with the introduction of real-time data from moisture and soil health probes and crop growth modelling platforms. Irrigation systems will be audited to improve energy and performance efficiencies.
Mackay Area Productivity Services
Increasing the number of growers that have adopted improved property-specific nutrient management plans which contribute to reducing the amount of dissolved inorganic nitrogen and pesticides that runs off to our Reef. This is achieved by providing detailed one-on-one advice that can be applied and recorded practically with a focus on improving the quality of water flowing from the region.