REEF WATERS IMPROVE THANKS TO FARMERS

April 21, 2022
Queensland farmers have received high praise after the state’s latest Reef Water Quality Report Card showed continued improvement in nitrogen and fine sediment entering the Barrier Reef lagoon.
 
The Reef Water Quality Report Card 2020 shows the target of a 60% reduction in nitrogen entering the Coral Sea by 2025 is almost halfway to being achieved and the 25% reduction target of fine sediment is more than halfway to being achieved.
 
Reductions in phosphorous, nitrogen and sediment levels received an “A” rating on the report card, with farmers in the Johnstone River catchment achieving the biggest nitrogen reductions in the state, closely followed by the Burdekin.
 
Graziers also contributed to the rating by fencing off stock from waterways on their properties and reducing erosion.
 
North Queensland-based Senator and Special Envoy for Northern Australia, Susan McDonald, praised farmers for their efforts and added these results were also due to record amounts of federal funding and federally sponsored on-farm engagement activities implemented by Environment Minister Sussan Ley.
 
“Graziers and cane farmers all over Queensland are voluntarily improving land management practices by planting more trees and native grasses, laser-levelling paddocks, and adopting new technology such as smart irrigation, capturing runoff, and sub-surface fertiliser application,” she said.
 
“This has now translated into measurable improvements and it’s great these efforts are being recognised.
 
“The Morrison Government’s $45.7 million Reef Alliance project has engaged with more than 1500 landholders to improve land management practices, water treatment and fertiliser reduction,” she said.
 
“We’ve also allocated $50 million to investigate measuring and treating urban wastewater and stormwater runoff which has long been suspected of adding nitrogen to the system and offsetting farmers’ efforts to improve water quality.”
 
Senator McDonald, who instigated a Senate Inquiry into reef science in 2020, said the Queensland Government had acknowledged Canegrowers Queensland’s BMP SmartCane program as contributing to water quality improvements.
 
“The effectiveness of SmartCane was one of the main takeaways from the Senate Inquiry. Farmers want to collaborate with governments and natural resource management groups on water quality issues, not be dictated to and threatened with enforcement action.
 
SmartCane works, it is voluntary and I’m pleased to see this industry-led initiative is working,” she said.
The Reef Water Quality Report Card 2020 is available here: https://www.reefplan.qld.gov.au/tracking-progress/reef-report-card/2020

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