Reef horizon fact sheet

Reef horizon–projects on-track to deliver for future report cards

The results are in and we are seeing some encouraging progress towards improving the quality of the water flowing to the Great Barrier Reef. With projects in different stages of implementation, not all of their water quality improvement outcomes have been captured in Report Card 2017 and 2018. While some of these projects have been partially captured, future reporting will better reflect progress towards new catchment targets, as the benefits to Reef water quality from these considerable investments are realised.

This fact sheet provides some examples of Reef water quality improvement activities that are underway, but not yet fully captured in report cards to date. To ensure we continue to build on this momentum, it is critical that we continue to implement these and other measures to support implementation of the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan.

Targeting multiple pollutants and management practices

Regulating to drive practice change

The Queensland Government has introduced new laws into Parliament to expand existing Reef protection regulations which currently regulate grazing and sugarcane production in the Wet Tropics, Burdekin and Mackay Whitsunday regions.  The proposed regulations will drive practice change to rapidly reduce run-off from agricultural and industrial sources across all six Reef regions. Building on an existing investment of $11 million for Reef regulation compliance, an additional $10.1 million will help support farmers, graziers and the agricultural industry transition to better practices that improve Reef water quality and support farm productivity and profitability.

For more information, visit Reef protection regulations.

Results will be captured in future report cards.

Reef Trust - Great Barrier Reef Foundation Partnership

This $443.3 million Reef Trust project includes $201 million to improve water quality on the Great Barrier Reef over six years. Under the first Water Quality Improvement Grant, over $19 million is being provided to 11 projects that are designed to maintain or develop capacity and seek to build on existing Australian and Queensland government programs with proven benefits. These projects will see gullies restored, support on-ground action with cane farmers and graziers to reduce sediment, nutrient and pesticide run-off in priority Reef catchments and provide more training opportunities for early career agricultural experts.

Learn more about these projects at Reef Water Quality Improvement Grant Program.

Results will be captured in future report cards.

Reef Trust Reef Alliance – Growing a Great Barrier Reef

This $45.7 million Reef Trust project is improving management practices across cane, grazing, dairy, horticulture, bananas, grains and cropping industries by providing a combination of extension, training and incentives. Since 2016, 185 cane farmers, 70 graziers and 33 landholders working in the horticulture, dairy and grains/broad acre industries have undertaken practice change.  This project has received an additional $3.5 million investment under the Great Barrier Reef Foundation-Reef Trust Partnership to support cane farmers and graziers.

To read more about this project, visit Reef Alliance: Growing a Great Barrier Reef Project.

Early results captured in 2017 and 2018 report card, with further results captured in future report cards.

Major Integrated Projects

The Queensland Government has invested close to $33 million over four years into two major projects:

Wet Tropics Major Integrated project

The Wet Tropics Major Integrated project is working primarily with cane and banana farmers in the Johnstone and Tully catchments to reduce nutrient, sediment and pesticide losses. Actions include installing, trialling and monitoring catchment repair and treatment systems; providing local scale water monitoring across 30 sites; increasing support services; and providing engagement activities to support a collaborative, whole-of-catchment effort to improve water quality.

For more information, visit Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project.

Early results captured in 2017 and 2018 report card, with further results captured in future report cards.

Burdekin Major Integrated Project: Landholders Driving Change project

The Burdekin Major Integrated Project: Landholders Driving Change project is engaging graziers, local government, mines and infrastructure providers to collaboratively address sediment and nutrient run-off in the Bowen, Broken and Bogie catchments. Actions include support programs to encourage graziers to improve their land management, trialling tailored solutions to control erosion, and local water quality monitoring to improve understanding of sediment and nutrient loss. A strong partnership with Whitsunday Regional Council is collaboratively improving erosion, weed and pest control in the region.

For more information, visit Landholders Driving Change.

Early results captured in 2017 and 2018 report card, with further results captured in future report cards.

Targeting nutrients and management practices for sugarcane

Trialling enhanced efficiency fertiliser on cane farms (EEF60)

This $7.1 million Australian and Queensland government funded project is supporting sugarcane farmers to improve their fertiliser use efficiency over three cane growing seasons until 2021. The trialled fertilisers are better at controlling the release of nutrients and have the potential to increase cane yields and reduce nutrient run-off. As of December 2018, nutrient management plans had been created covering over 15,000 hectares.

For more information, visit Introducing EEF60: cane farm fertiliser trials.

Results will be captured in future report cards.

Mackay Whitsunday Isaac Sustainable Agriculture Cane

This $4.4 million Reef Trust project is helping sugarcane farmers adopt best management practices to reduce nutrient and pesticide run-off. As of December 2018, 244 growers had adopted sustainable practice changes. The project uses a multi-pronged approach, including developing farm plans, providing grants, training, workshops, case studies and field days, to engage farmers and support industry practice changes.

To read more on this project, visit Reef Trust III Farmer Case Studies.

Early results captured in 2017 and 2018 report card, with further results captured in future report cards.

Project Catalyst Revamp – game changing farm management practices

This $3 million Reef Trust project is helping sugarcane growers improve their nutrient and pesticide management to maximise the environmental and production benefits. The project provides networking opportunities and a forum for discussing and sharing new ideas, trial outcomes, mentoring and education. As of December 2018, a total of 87 growers were conducting 115 trials, with some growers having multiple properties. This project has received an additional $2.4 million investment under the Great Barrier Reef Foundation-Reef Trust Partnership.

To read more about this project, including case studies, visit Project Catalyst.

Results will be captured in future report cards.

Burdekin complete nutrient management planning for cane farming

This $2.6 million Queensland Government project is helping sugarcane growers to improve nutrient management. Local agronomists are working with cane farmers from 210 farms in the Burdekin region to create tailored nutrient management plans, including advice to optimise the level of fertiliser applied for productivity and water quality benefits. Fertiliser adjustments have not compromised their productivity and profitability.

For more information, visit RP161C Complete Nutrient Management Planning for Cane Farming.

Early results captured in 2017 and 2018 report card, with further results captured in future report cards.

Mackay delivering tailored solutions to improve nutrient management

This $2.3 million Queensland Government project builds on the success of the Burdekin project with Farmacist working with cane farmers from 150 farms in the Mackay Whitsunday region to develop site specific farm management plans. Working with growers, agronomists are developing site specific nutrient plans that meet all regulatory requirements and improve block scale nutrient management. Farmers will also receive practical assistance with activities such as calibrating equipment, and action learning groups established to increase the adoption of improved practices. In 2018, through this project nitrogen application rates reduced by 98 tonnes across 57 farms.

For more information, visit Mackay Whitsunday and Fitzroy catchment restoration projects.

Results will be captured in future report cards.

Making connections from Cane to Creek

This project is assisting growers to achieve nutrient management best practice, with a focus on profitability and productivity while improving environmental stewardship. Sugar Research Australia is helping sugarcane growers in the Mulgrave-Russell catchment in the Wet Tropics understand what is happening in their local creeks and how land management practices influence local water quality. Growers have attended workshops and are also working with the Mulgrave Landcare Group to revegetate a creek to reduce erosion. This project is receiving over $2.2 million from the Great Barrier Reef Foundation-Reef Trust Partnership building on Queensland Government pilot funding of $268,300 to expand in other priority catchments.

For more information, visit Cane to Creek.

Results will be captured in future report cards.

Targeting sediment and management practices for grazing

Project Pioneer – innovation in grazing land management Project Pioneer

This $2.9 million Reef Trust project is reducing sediment run-off by coaching graziers to improve land condition and profitability. The project is in its final year and is showing positive results. Even with the drought and challenges around pasture dieback, graziers have seen improvements in ground cover and greater diversity of plants in pasture from resting paddocks. As of December 2018, 130 graziers had adopted sustainable practice changes encompassing more than 1.8 million hectares. This project has received an additional $2.8 million investment to expand under the GBRF-Reef Trust Partnership.

For stories from producers improving their land management practices, visit Project Pioneer Producer Stories.

Early results captured in 2017 and 2018 report card, with further results captured in future report cards.

Targeting gully and streambank remediation for sediment

Reef Trust Gully Erosion Control Program

Through two phases of investment, the Reef Trust Gully Erosion Control program aims to reduce sediment entering the Reef lagoon from agricultural land-uses, test remediation approaches to guide cost effective investment in sediment reduction and increase riparian habitat protection. The first phase of the program provided $7.5 million to trial cost effective mechanisms across the Cape York, Burdekin, Fitzroy and Burnett Mary regions. At its conclusion in December 2018, the program was estimated to have achieved 5,400 tonnes annual reduction of fine sediment loads entering the Reef lagoon. The second phase of the program, which commenced in 2016 and concludes in 2022, provides a further $29 million to support projects that will target some of the highest risk areas of erosion and sediment loss in Reef regions. It is using the learnings from the earlier phase to design projects focused on achieving maximum sediment reductions that are cost effective.

For more information, view Technical findings and outcomes from the Reef Trust Gully Erosion Control Program.

Early results captured in 2017 and 2018 report card, with further results captured in future report cards.

Innovative gully remediation project – Strathalbyn Station

This $4 million Gully Remediation Partnership project jointly funded by the Queensland Government and Greening Australia over four years is tackling gully erosion in the Burdekin. The project at Strathalbyn Station, a grazing property three hours south of Townsville, has trialled cost-effective gully repair techniques and now plans to roll these out to erosion hotspots elsewhere along the Reef catchments. Phase one of the gully restoration works improved the sediment concentration leaving the treatment gully by 97 per cent. A total of 13.1 hectares of gullies have been remediated, whilst a further 52 hectares of grazing land upstream of the gullies has been modified to achieve additional sediment loss reductions.

To read more, visit Rebuilding Eroding Land at Strathalbyn Station. This project is being expanded in partnership with GreenCollar with an additional $2 million investment under the Great Barrier Reef Foundation-Reef Trust Partnership.

Early results captured in 2017 and 2018 report card, with further results captured in future report cards.

The Australian and Queensland governments are investing over $600 million between 2017 and 2022 to implement the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan under the Reef Trust and Queensland Reef Water Quality Program.

Last updated
30 August 2019