Burnett Mary

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    Grazing

    Better Beef for the Reef

    The Burnett Mary Regional Group’s (BMRG) Better Beef for the Reef project aimed to accelerate the adoption rate of improved grazing management practices and contribute to better water quality outcomes for the Great Barrier Reef. The project is funded through the Queensland Government’s Reef Water Quality Program and engaged graziers who have not previously participated in natural resource management programs. Participating graziers are provided with a suite of one-on-one extension and support measures to assist them in developing plans to improve their farms’ profitability, productivity and sustainability.

    Since 2017, the project has encouraged on-farm practice change as well as enhanced the knowledge, skills, aspirations and motivations of producers in the Burnett Mary. The project funded and established demonstration sites that remediated active gully erosion and evened out grazing pressure through the use of infrastructure on a number of properties. In addition to on-farm improvements, producers also had access to technical experts and on-going one-on-one extension support from a grazing extension officer to help guide them through any changes. A broad range of topics were discussed with producers through the project such as breeding and genetics, drought resilience, erosion remediation techniques, soil testing, vegetation management, forage budgeting, rotational grazing, wet season spelling and property mapping.

    The project has also reported social outcomes. A 2018 survey of some of the graziers’ attitudes, motivations and barriers to land management practice change found: 

    • they prefer face-to-face extension activities, including one-on-one extension support and peer-to-peer learning activities
    • when the graziers themselves research management practices they are more willing to change to those practices.

    Watch this video to hear from some of the local graziers talking about some of the benefits they received, including learning about soil types, access to grants and preventing soil loss into the Great Barrier Reef. The project will be completed in 2020. To learn more, visit the BMRG website.

    Sugarcane

    Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Enhanced Extension Coordination: Achieving better results together

    Achieving better results together is a peer-to-peer learning program for cropping and sugarcane land managers from the Monto and southern sugarcane growing districts of the Burnett Mary region. The project encourages professional development and capacity building across the cropping and sugarcane industries through a residential leadership program, a bus trip tour to understand regionally specific learnings webinars and targeted workshops. The program is funded through the Enhanced Extension Coordination in Great Barrier Reef project with support from the Burnett Mary Regional Group , CANEGROWERS Isis and the Burnett Catchment Care Association .

    In 2018 to 2019, the project delivered one residential leadership module; a bus trip tour with cropping and sugarcane growers to investigate precision agriculture and energy efficiency within the region, and a mentoring program for 15 cropping and sugarcane growers.

    Social outcomes have been reported as a result of this program. Feedback from participants involved in the residential leadership module showed changes to attitudes, perceived barriers and motivations. Some comments were: “Very interesting to look at to understand how we think and act. Helps understand our staff personalities better and maybe ways to motivate them and get them on-board”. “The field visits were of great value to my business because it will help make better irrigation infrastructure purchases and the program was of value because it will assist in our understanding and assessing of business operations.”

    Horticulture

    Hort360

    The Hort360 program supports commercial horticulture growers by providing a 360 degree view of a farm’s business operations through a risk assessment tool. This approach helps farmers identify risks and unnecessary farm expenses in addition to potential business opportunities. Hort360 growers can access technical support, on-farm training and professional networks. The program, which has 108 water quality related modules and sub-modules, is jointly funded by the Queensland Government’s Reef Water Quality Program and the Australian Government’s Reef Trust.

    A mid-term evaluation conducted in 2019 identified that the program is developing momentum and achieving significant practice change outcomes:

    • Almost two thirds of growers interviewed said that they had made changes on their farm because of working through the Hort360 modules (e.g. water/irrigation/run-off management, fertiliser management, herbicide management).
    • Over 70 horticulture businesses completed one or more of the modules to the end of September 2019 and half of the growers interviewed attended an extension activity.

    The program is also reporting social outcomes with some growers indicating that their main motivations for being involved were related to positive financial and productivity outcomes and time savings. A notable number of these outcomes state that positive environmental outcomes (water quality in particular) are a motivator, particularly for those in the Burnett Mary region. There are many case studies and videos highlighting the positive benefits growers have received from embracing Hort360. In addition, the program delivery team has noticed an improved understanding of farm management practices and how these relate to off-farm impacts.

    For more information, visit the Hort360 website.