Reef Alliance - Burnett Cropping

2017 - 2019

Reef Alliance – Growing a Great Barrier Reef wass a partnership between agricultural industry groups and regional NRM bodies which wass facilitated by the Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) with the goal of securing the future health of the Great Barrier Reef.

The Australian Government  invested $45M towards the Reef Alliance “Growing a Great Barrier Reef” project.  The project was funded through the Australian Government’s $140 million investment in Reef Trust, which focused on improving water quality and protecting coastal habitats and the biodiversity of the Great Barrier Reef.  $3.6M had been specifically allocated to the Cropping/Grains industry to deliver training, extension and targeted on-ground support to land managers until 30 June 2019.

The Opportunity

Initially concentrating on the North Burnett district, the primary focus of the investment in the Burnett Mary region was to reduce sediment and nutrient run-off and subsequently improve the quality of water entering the Great Barrier Reef. This was achieved by using industry Best Management Practices guidelines.

Participants received individual, tailored support over a 2-year period from our Reef Alliance Cropping Field Officer to implement a Property Action Plan (PAP) and improve their business model. The program focussed on ground cover management, erosion control, fertiliser application methods and herbicide management practices for improved land condition (especially practices that reduce soil loss). The Plan was developed by the landholder and the Reef Alliance Cropping Field Officer while technical assistance and training to help implement the Plan was provided free-of-charge.

The Results

During the 2017/2018 financial year, BCCA allocated project funds to three growers to assist those growers with achieving practice change. One grower undertook an earthworks project that included levelling and forming drains and diversion banks which would see more even crop establishment in the future along with reduced sediment loss and therefore crop losses post rain events and flooding over 55ha.  Another grower purchased a GPS system to integrate with existing machinery to ensure “repeatability” of wheel traffic and greater accuracy during herbicide application.  This will reduce compaction, increase soil health and allow for better crop growth along with reducing input costs such as fuel, maintenance and herbicide over 243ha.  A third grower modified their planter to ensure that it matches the wheel spacings of other equipment in a Controlled Traffic System so as to reduce compaction, increase soil health and allow for better crop growth along with reducing input costs such as fuel, maintenance and seed impacting 292ha.

Throughout the 2017/18 financial year, interested growers also had the opportunity to attend two separate events held in the Monto district.  The first event was a soil health workshop facilitated “on-farm” by agronomist, David Hall.  The one-day workshop provided information on different soil types and the physical properties of those soil types, including filtration properties.  David gave advice on how to interpret soil test results and how to use those results to formulate a plan to manage or improve that soil based on its intended use.  Twenty-nine participants from 20 operations attended the workshop with positive feedback received.

The second event saw 41 participants from 26 operations experience an evening workshop with Cam Nicholson of Nicon Rural Consulting.  Cam defined types of decisions, factors that affect decision making and different decision making tools.  He discussed the definition of risk and how it affects farmer’s decision making.  Of particular interest on the night was discussion around the four general types of temperaments identified amongst agriculturalists – Dependable, Doer, Pioneer and Team Builder.

During the 2018/2019 financial year, practice change to reduce sediment run-off was recorded for 641ha over seven operations.  Five Landholders achieved practice change to reduce sediment run-off over a total of 374ha by improving “repeatability” of wheel traffic while a further two Landholders opted to improve tillage practices over 267ha by allowing planting into standing stubble and greater moisture retention. Five Landholders achieved practice change to reduce herbicide run-off by ensuring greater accuracy of application and minimising overlap.

Interested growers had the opportunity to attend two separate events, the first being a bus trip to Allora and Dalby in February 2019 where a group of 12 Landholders headed to David Peter’s farm in the Allora District.  David was awarded the Grain Grower of the Year award from GRDC in 2018 and is well known for growing high yielding dryland crops.  The next stop on the tour was the Rasmussen Bros Engineering workshop in Dalby.  After demonstrating the latest technology in precision planting and spraying, Marshall and Darren Rasmussen fielded a barrage of questions from the growers around how the technology can be applied in the paddock.

The second event saw 29 participants from 20 operations attend a soil Health Assessment evening with David Hall in April 2019.  Local Growers who participated in the Reef Trust III Soil Testing project attended a group presentation by Agronomist, David Hall.  After carrying out soil testing on various farms and discussing individual results with each Grower, David met with the group to discuss the summarised results and provide strategies for maximising soil health and minimising insufficiencies.

Over the course of the entire Reef Trust III Grains program in the Burnett Region, practice change to reduce sediment run-off was recorded over 1231ha for ten operations and practice change relating to herbicide run-off was recorded for 618ha over six operations.

Program News

Clifton Dalby Bus Trip

Clifton Dalby Bus Trip

A group of 12 Growers from the Monto district climbed aboard the bus for a couple of intense days of learning. The group departed for Dalby on Tuesday afternoon and had an early start on Wednesday morning. First up, a scenic drive from Dalby to Allora via Cecil Plains...

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Cover Cropping in Monto

Cover Cropping in Monto

On a warm Monday in November an enthusiastic group of 17 met in Monto to learn about multi-species cover cropping with Graeme Hand and Colin Seis. Colin Seis is a pioneer of Pasture Cropping and recipient of the Bob Hawke Landcare Award. He discussed the advantages of...

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Program Sponsors

This project was supported by the following partners and investors.
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