Connecting Burdekin cane farmers to their local wetland

The Connecting Burdekin cane farmers to their local wetlands project was funded by the Queensland Government’s Reef Water Quality Program and it finished in 2019. The project worked with 12 lower Burdekin sugarcane farmers to improve the health of Horseshoe and Lilliesmere lagoons while improving the productivity and profitability of the sugarcane farms.

The sugarcane growers involved in the project undertook several trials on their paddocks including:

  • reducing nitrogen fertiliser and banded mill mud application rates to decrease the levels of nutrients leaving the paddock and entering waterways
  • growing legumes during fallow to improve long-term soil health
  • GPS bed forming to ensure consistent row spacing and facilitate controlled traffic to reduce soil compaction
  • split application of fertiliser to more precisely deliver nutrients to crops and reduce nitrogen run-off levels.

The project has also reported social outcomes. A survey of the sugarcane farmers found that they had increased their knowledge about the effects of nutrients and irrigation run-off on local water quality and felt the changes they had made improved the health of local wetlands.

Watch the video above of local sugarcane farmers talking about the benefits of making land management changes on their farms.