Reef protection regulations
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 run-off 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 catchments and critical sub-catchments where science is showing us there is a problem. Cane farmers are also being encouraged to adopt best management practices, through the voluntary Smartcane BMP.
How to comply with reef protection regulations
In 2010 reef protection requirements that directly relate to sugarcane farming were brought in under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (EP Act) (PDF, 3MB).
The regulations require all cane farmers in the Wet Tropics, Burdekin and Mackay-Whitsundays to:
- Undertake soil tests within one year of planting in accordance with the Method for soil sampling and analysis for sugarcane properties (PDF, 1.4MB) regulated under the EP Act.
- Use the results of soil tests to calculate the optimum amount of nitrogen and phosphorus in accordance with the Method for calculating the optimum amount of nitrogen and phosphorus to be applied to sugarcane properties regulated under the EP Act.
- Keep the soil test reports and records of the calculation of the optimum amount of nitrogen and phosphorus for a period of five years.
- Apply no more than the optimum amount of nitrogen and phosphorus.
- Keep records (DOCX, 110KB) of the agricultural chemicals, fertilisers and soil conditioners applied including the amount, product analysis, date and method of application for a period of five years.
- Have a map showing the boundary of the blocks where soil testing and fertiliser and soil conditioner application has occurred.
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.
Cane farmers who have adopted best management practices have saved money and maintained productivity, while assisting in minimising the risk of nutrients, pesticides and sediment leaving your property and impacting the health of the reef. For more information or to register for Smartcane BMP, please contact the CANEGROWERS BMP Project Manager, Mick Quirk on 0408 748 141 or email email@example.com.
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).