Farmers work to reduce impact on Reef
LOOKING to prove their commitment to the health of the Great Barrier Reef, growers in the Myrtle Creek sub-catchment near Proserpine have received the first results from studies conducted to reduce nitrogen and pesticide run-off from sugarcane farms.
Starting at the end of 2018, the results from the first wet season of the Pathways to Water Quality Improvement in the Myrtle Creek Sub-catchment project were shared with more than 50 growers from the area at a meeting on May 14, with most measurements indicating low levels of nutrient and pesticide run-off.
The three-year project funded by the Department of Environment and Science and Sugar Research Australia, in partnership with Sugar Services Proserpine, set up eight water samplers across four paddocks to monitor and evaluate end-of-paddock water quality impacts of changed practices.
Sugar Services Proserpine manager Frank Miller said farmers in the area were concerned about protecting the reef and were eager to learn more about how to best reduce their farms' impact on the reef through improved farming practices.
"It's the responsibility of all farmers to ensure the water quality is maintained and that we don't have excess nutrients and chemicals running off into our waterways," Mr Miller said.
"Farmers are very keen to know what is happening with their farms and if there is a problem they want to be able to do something about it."
The project is preparing for the upcoming wet season to test a different set of management practices.
Farmers in the area are hoping at the end of the three years, results will be able to assist them in continuing to best manage their farms as a viable business while having minimal impact on water quality.
Mr Miller said the project was a positive step for farmers in the region and would hopefully help to clear circling misconceptions about farmers disregard for the health of the Reef.
"Farmers can get the blame for the damaging of the reef and there seems to be very little focus on the wider communities' contributions to the problems the reef is facing, and they don't appear to get the scrutiny we farmers face," he said.
"This project, I think it's great - it's something we've been wanting for a long time and we finally have the funding to assist us because we are very keen to prove we farmers are doing the right thing and the only way we can do that is by doing projects like these."