Reef Protection Research and Development Program
The Reef Protection Research and Development (R&D) program shares information with graziers and cane growers about managing water pollutants from cane farms and cattle properties in the Wet Tropics, Burdekin Dry Tropics and Mackay-Whitsunday priority catchments.
During 2011, the former Department of Environment and Resource Management (now the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection) reviewed the science framework and research priorities of the program with input from industry, government, scientists, natural resource management (NRM) groups and other stakeholders. The program will deliver strong, defensible evidence to help land managers get the right tools and support in managing pollutants. Where funding permits, the program will also underpin and extend other reef science agendas.
New investments for 2011-14
In October 2011, 32 new research and development projects (PDF, 72K)* were funded for the next three years as part of the R&D program. These projects will better define risks to the reef from agricultural land management, identify solutions, and help land managers adopt practices to improve both profitability and water quality. Progress to date under this program is being reviewed, taking account of emerging priorities and partnerships.
The R&D program has supported cane and grazing in the Wet Tropics, Burdekin Dry Tropics and Mackay-Whitsunday catchments, but, in many cases, learnings and products can be applied to similar activities in other reef catchments.
Science projects and outputs
Since 2010, the Reef Protection Science Program team has been developing a suite of science projects that is resulting in valuable, knowledge-based and practical tools for landholders.
The initial investment of $2.5 million in 2009 for various trials, products, landscape analysis and catchment prioritisation has shown where scientific and policy efforts should be focused.
The table below lists projects funded in the 2009 science prospectus, and links (where available) to project outputs.
R&D project funding
The Reef Protection R&D program aims to support sugarcane growers’ work to improve the quality of water leaving their farms, and ensure advice given to land managers is based on good, well-reviewed science.
In 2011, the Queensland Government funded an extensive portfolio of research and development projects totalling $7.6 million to identify sources of reef pollutants and the best ways to manage them. Of the funds, more than $300,000 was set aside to extend existing efforts by growers and support organisations to improve water quality in the Wet Tropics, Burdekin Dry Tropics and Mackay–Whitsundays catchments.
Sugarcane adaptive management trial projects
In 2012, grower organisations and industry advisory and extension service providers were invited to seek funding for cane adaptive management projects addressing priority pollutants (regulated PSII pesticides and applied nitrogen and phosphorus fertilisers) in the three reef catchments. The call for applications closed 30 March 2012.
To directly engage growers and their communities, priority was given to projects developed by (or in partnership with) local productivity and other extension providers. Projects had to target at least one aspect of the adaptive management cycle (engagement, extension, practice change and research) to:
- improve understanding of potential fertiliser and herbicide losses
- improve understanding of management practices
- improve extension services to reduce impacts on the Great Barrier Reef.
The five funded projects go beyond standard extension and engagement by demonstrating direct links between practices and water quality—therefore helping growers to see where changes are needed and to document subsequent improvements. New approaches aim to involve growers from project establishment and monitoring through to evaluation, to give them confidence to adopt proven practices and share their learnings locally.
The successful projects are:
- Reef Catchments Mackay-Whitsunday Isaac Limited: $100,000 to undertake the project ‘Validation and extension of the water quality, productivity and economic benefits of adopting improved nutrient and chemical management in sugarcane in the Central region’ in the Mackay-Whitsunday catchment.
- Burdekin Bowen Integrated Floodplain Management Advisory Committee (BBIFMAC): $68,412 for the project ‘Recognising the potential of the contribution of groundwater nitrates in the nutrient budget in the Burdekin sugar industry’; and $92,200 to undertake ‘A sub-catchment adaptive management approach to water quality in sugarcane’ in the Burdekin Dry Tropics catchment.
- Tully Cane Productivity Services Limited (TCPSL): $40,000 to undertake the ‘Targeted weed management to reduce the use of PSII chemicals’ project; and $30,000 towards the ‘Changing attitudes to mill mud and legume nutrient adjustment in the Tully region’ project in the Wet Tropics catchment.
For further information contact Coordination Reef Project or phone (07) 3330 5624.
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Last updated 6 August 2012