Reef protection regulations
How does this impact cane farmers?
The science about the state of the Great Barrier Reef is clear. The Queensland Government is focusing attention on the uptake of key farming practices that directly reduce the likelihood of nutrients and pesticide runoff into the reef.
Additional officers are on the ground to encourage faster uptake of regulated standards through awareness, extension and targeted compliance activities. The aim is to communicate and educate, not to penalise.
The focus is on all cane farmers in the high priority catchments of the Wet Tropics, Burdekin and Mackay-Whitsundays.
Cane farmers are also being encouraged to adopt best management practices, through the voluntary Smartcane BMP.
In 2010 reef protection requirements were brought in under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 and the Chemical Usage (Agricultural and Veterinary) Control Act 1988 and associated regulations. The regulations require all cane farmers in the Wet Tropics, Burdekin and Mackay-Whitsundays to:
- keep records of their use of fertilisers and agricultural chemicals
- undertake soil tests
- use the results of soil tests, and the regulated method, to calculate and apply no more than the optimum amount of fertiliser (nitrogen and phosphorus)
- follow product label instructions when using agricultural chemicals such as herbicides and insecticides
- follow specific controls when using herbicide products containing atrazine, ametryn, hexazinone and diuron (including prescribed user training qualifications, spray-droplet size restrictions, no-spray windows, and restrictions on using prior to rainfall and near waterbodies). More information on managing chemicals is available.
How to improve cane farming practices
You are encouraged to adopt best management practices, for example, through the voluntary Smartcane BMP.
The industry developed Smartcane BMP program, is a robust and practical system that is about improving productivity, profitability and sustainability of farm enterprises. As part of the Smartcane BMP, growers assess their practices to determine if they are ‘below’, ‘at’, or ‘above’ the industry standard. If their activities are below the industry standard, the system shows what they would need to do to reach that standard. Help is also available through local facilitators.
Meeting the Smartcane BMP ‘industry standard’ in the following modules will also help you meet the regulated standards:
- Soil Health and Nutrient Management
- Irrigation and Drainage Management
- Weed, Pest and Disease Management.
These will most likely save you money, while assisting in minimising the risk of nutrients, pesticides and sediment leaving the property and impacts on the health of the reef.
In addition, there are a number of programs and support tools provided by the Australian and Queensland Governments and industry organisations to help cane famers adopt best farming practices. Read more about the support programs and tools for cane farmers.
I am already undertaking best farming practices, do I need to do anything more?
Congratulations for managing your farm sustainably. However, you should ensure that you are complying with the steps listed under how to comply with reef protection regulations.
For more information, please email RWQinfo@ehp.qld.gov.au or call 13 QGOV (13 74 68).