Throughout 2014, Reef Catchments will be working with industry partners to deliver a new look Australian Government Reef Water Quality Grants programme to the Mackay Whitsunday region.
The Water Quality Grants programme provides funding and assistance to land holders to improve farming practice for better water quality outcomes and is part of the wider Australian Government Reef Programme that aims to reduce land based pollutants reaching the Great Barrier Reef.
Reef Catchments has taken steps to support sugarcane farmers and graziers to improve land management, not just through funding new farm equipment, but through the provision of careful farm planning for future farm success and improved water quality leaving agricultural lands.
Sugarcane growers will have the opportunity to work directly with experienced precision planners and local industry providers, including Mackay Area Productivity Services, Plane Creek Productivity Services and CANEGROWERS Mackay and Proserpine.
Through this network growers will be supported to create detailed three-year property plans to maximise productivity and economic and environmental outcomes. The planning process will have emphasis on the region’s target pollutants – nitrogen and herbicides – and will be reviewed annually.
The precision planners will provide additional agronomic support equivalent to six days of farm extension. Landholders and planners can then produce Water Quality Grant applications in line with property needs identified during their planning process.
Landholders will also be able to access the following activities at no cost, with funding supplied over a three-year period:
• Mapping to understand soil variability within block for precision management
• Soil testing above regulated requirements, for targeted nutrient management
Graziers in the region will also benefit from improved property planning, working with Reef Catchments Grazing Officer Amanda Bland to undertake property management. This includes mapping weeds and pests, devising strategies for targeted management actions and identifying improvements for fencing and pasture management. Further funding applications will again be put together based on the plans.
Reef Water Quality grants in Mackay Whitsunday will be competitive and the amount of funding provided will be prioritised based on the level of water quality improvement achieved through planned changes, the location of the project (by sub-catchment) and value for money.
However all participants will receive the planning and agronomic support that is so important in improving management for environmental and productivity gains. It is hoped that the many landholders who received equipment funding through Reef Rescue over the past five years will continue to gain from this important next step of the programme. Participating landholders will be provided with the resources they need to maximise equipment productivity and achieve long-term operational success.
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 0488 730 021.