The Australian Government Reef Programme has provided $2.6 million ($1.76 million in 2015/16) to cane farmers throughout the MWI NRM region to improve economic, social and environmental outcomes. Cane farmers more than matched this investment to a tune of $3.7 million. Funding provides an opportunity for growers and contractors to improve on-farm efficiencies linked towards chemical, nutrient, soil and irrigation practices. Farm practice change is a vital step toward improving water quality runoff to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon. Reef Programme round two funding was via water quality grants, with extension providers engaged to provide support and services to farmers.

2015-16 saw the continuation of cane farmers receiving one-on-one extension support from Precision Planning Consultants throughout the Mackay Whitsunday region. Consultants assisted growers with formulating chemical and nutrient plans at a finer scale to try and improve productivity and profitability as a means to reduce losses off-farm.

This extension support service was complemented by cane farmers being able to access grants towards spray nozzle upgrades, EM mapping and soil testing, irrigation equipment, GPS systems and variable rate applicators for chemical and nutrient use. Grants also supported subsurface application of fertiliser, and the development/ rehabilitation of wetlands and sediment basins.

The Reef Programme looked to increase farm profitability through efficiency gains while maintaining or improving yields. Focusing on both productivity and water quality is a win-win and will ensure a sustainable industry and region in the years ahead. Improvements in water quality must be addressed sustainably, taking into consideration the range of factors impacting farm practices and decisions.

The programme delivered excellent value for money, with Government and industry investing in precision farm planning, equipment upgrades to assist growers to move towards precision agriculture as well as the establishment of multiple off-farm water capture basins and wetlands. The uptake of precision agriculture and improved practices will lead to water quality improvements in the region over the coming years.

In 2015/16;
• Chemical management projects covered 6,470 ha
• Nutrient management projects covered 8,767 ha
• Soil management projects covered 8,502 ha
• Irrigation management projects covered 8,408 ha
• 60 cane farmers received irrigation extension support to identify inefficiencies that contribute to poor yields and nutrient runoff

This three year Programme completed in June 2016. A new programme has commenced and is being progressed under Reef Trust 3 funding.

Monitoring Organisation Reef Catchments

Name Katrina Dent

Phone 4968 4207


Position in organisation General Manager

Activity Type agricultural projects (e.g. projects to improve water quality and/or soil health)

Activity Indicators water quality in freshwater river basins

Activity location O'Connell catchment, Pioneer catchment, Plane catchment, Proserpine catchment

Frequency of monitoring

Monitoring Start Date 01/07/2013


Location of monitoring data

Date quality / confidence

Website URL

Collaborators Australian Government, Cane Growers Associations, Farmacist, local partners

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