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Bananas

Why are regulations required for banana production?

Rainfall, and irrigation run-off as well as leaching can wash nutrients and sediment into waterways and coastal wetlands which flow to the Great Barrier Reef.

The minimum practice agricultural standards for banana production focus on retaining nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment on-farm to minimise run-off and improve water quality.

The Queensland Government has made a commitment that the minimum practice agricultural standards will remain substantially unchanged for the next five years.

What are the requirements for banana producers?

Under the Reef protection regulations, all banana producers in the Wet Tropics, Burdekin, Mackay Whitsunday, Fitzroy and Burnett Mary regions are required to:

  • keep general records, for example about fertilisers applied to land
  • comply with minimum practice agricultural standards as this requirement is applied to each region over the next three years from 2021
  • obtain an environmental authority (permit) if commencing new or expanding cropping or horticulture activities on five hectares or more of land that does not have a cropping history in the Cape York, Wet Tropics, Burdekin, Mackay Whitsunday, Fitzroy and Burnett Mary regions from 1 June 2021.

A cropping history is when the land has been used for cropping or horticulture activities during three out of the last 10 years.

Why is the Cape York region excluded from most of the requirements?

Most of the requirements do not apply to existing producers in the Cape York region as the region has met its water quality targets.

However, from 1 June 2021, any new or expanding commercial cropping and horticulture activities in the Cape York region on five hectares or more of land that does not have a cropping history will require an environmental authority (permit) before the activity or any work takes place.

What records do I need to keep?

All banana producers are required to keep general records now. Minimum standard records will be required as these minimum practice agricultural standards are rolled out across each region.

Records can be in any format but must be made within three business days, kept for at least six years and be available when requested by an authorised person such as a compliance officer.

Records need to be kept to demonstrate activities are being undertaken on the property in accordance with the minimum agricultural practice standards.

The government has committed to not commencing the regulation to acquire specific agricultural data from the broader agricultural sector, such as data about fertiliser and chemical use, soil testing and crop yield.

For a full description of the record keeping requirements for banana producers please refer to the Agricultural ERA standard for banana cultivation (PDF, 1.38MB).

General records

For banana producers, general records must include:

  • name of the banana producer (i.e. the person(s) carrying out the activity)
  • name of person making record
  • company name (if applicable)
  • property address/es
  • postal address
  • farm identification number/s (if applicable)
  • a list of the lots included in all the farms within the agricultural enterprise
  • records of agricultural chemicals (any pesticide, herbicide or fungicide applied to land or crops), fertiliser and mill mud/mill ash applied and specifically:
    • location of each application (e.g. farm number with block name or management zone)
    • date of each application
    • agricultural chemical (any pesticide, herbicide or fungicide applied to land or crops) and/or fertiliser product (including mill mud/mill ash) applied to each location with product name, application rate (kg/ha, L/ha or tonnes/ha for mill mud/mill ash) and for fertiliser product percentage of nitrogen and phosphorus.

Minimum standard records

For banana producers, minimum standard records must specifically include the following with supporting primary documents (leaf test reports, fertiliser contractor print-outs, fertiliser invoices etc.) as proof of the records:

A. Nitrogen and phosphorus application

  1. Amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus (kg/ha) calculated for each block using the Prescribed methodology for banana cultivation.
  2. Method of fertiliser application.

B. Nutrient Management Plan (if applicable)

  1. A farm map/s showing block boundaries, block identifiers, block area (ha), and leaf sampling locations.
  2. The results of leaf testing for nitrogen.
  3. The results of leaf testing for phosphorus.
  4. Annual nitrogen and phosphorus application rates applied (kg/ha/yr).
  5. Annual yields achieved (for example, the total number of cartons per year per farm).
  6. Nitrogen and phosphorus recommendations from an appropriate person, including:
    1. recommended application rates
    2. appropriate frequency of application.
  7. Names, date and contact details of the appropriate person/s who have developed and verified the nutrient management plan for the agricultural property.

What minimum practice agricultural standards do I need to comply with?

The minimum agricultural practice standards for banana producers are to:

  • Minimise sediment loss to waterways by having appropriate erosion and sediment control measures in places where there is a high risk of soil loss from the farm.
  • Ensure fallow blocks have adequate covered ground at appropriate times in the banana crop cycle.
  • Ensure inter-rows on plant blocks have at least 60% covered ground before 1 November (wet season) (unless undertaking renovation works).
  • Ensure inter-rows on ratoon blocks have at least 60% covered ground (unless undertaking renovation works).
  • If the annual amount of nitrogen and phosphorus applied to the farm remains below the maximum levels stated in the table below, growers do not need to change their current fertiliser rates.
Crop stageNitrogenPhosphorus
Plant 280 kg/ha/year 60 kg/ha/year
Ratoon 400 kg/ha/year 60 kg/ha/year
  • If the annual amount of nitrogen and phosphorus will exceed the levels stated in the table above, growers will need to develop a nutrient management plan with an appropriate person using the Prescribed methodology for banana cultivation.

For a full description of the minimum practice agricultural standards for banana producers, please refer to the Agricultural ERA standard for banana cultivation (PDF, 1.38MB) and the Prescribed methodology for banana cultivation (PDF, 1.19MB).

You can also refer to the Erosion and sediment control guide (PDF, 2.8 MB) and Fertiliser placement guide (PDF, 1.2 MB) for information on how to comply.

What are the requirements for new or expanding cropping and horticulture?

From 1 June 2021, new or expanding cropping and horticulture activities (including banana production) in the Cape York, Wet Tropics, Burdekin, Mackay Whitsunday, Fitzroy and Burnett Mary regions on five hectares or more of land that does not have a cropping history will require an environmental authority (permit) before the activity or any work takes place.

A cropping history is when the land has been used for cropping or horticulture activities during three out of the last 10 years. There are also transitional provisions that allow some extra time to develop a cropping history for any cropping that has only recently started (in the three years prior to 1 June 2021).

For detailed information on this requirement please refer to the requirements for new or expanding cropping page.

Banana growers who are relocating due to TR4 Panama disease will only need to apply for a standard environmental authority, subject to the standard conditions regardless of the size of the new cropping activity.

Growers who relocate due to Panama TR4 should also refer to the requirements for new or expanding cropping page.

When do the regulations apply?

Record keeping

All banana producers in the Wet Tropics, Burdekin, Mackay Whitsunday, Fitzroy and Burnett Mary regions are required to keep general records now and then, as the minimum practice agricultural standards commence for their region, minimum standard records.

Minimum practice agricultural standards

The minimum practice agricultural standards for banana producers will apply as follows:

  • Wet Tropics region from 1 December 2020
  • Burdekin region from 1 December 2022
  • Mackay Whitsunday region from 1 December 2022
  • Fitzroy region from 1 December 2022
  • Burnett Mary region from 1 December 2022
When the Reef protection regulations apply for banana growing

Region

Record keeping requirements

Minimum practice agricultural standards

New or expanding cropping activities

Wet Tropics

1 December 2019

1 December 2020

1 June 2021

Burdekin, Fitzroy, Mackay Whitsunday and Burnett Mary

1 December 2019

1 December 2022

1 June 2021

Cape York

N/A

N/A

1 June 2021

Recognised accreditation programs and acknowledged practice change projects

The Queensland Department of Environment and Science has the ability to recognise producers who participate in programs and projects that align to, or achieve more than the regulatory standards and identify them as a lower priority for compliance inspections under the Reef protection regulations. There are two options available (a) recognised accreditation programs and (b) acknowledged practice change projects.

For information on the benefits of being involved, read the recognised programs and acknowledged projects page.

How does compliance work?

Compliance officers from the Department of Environment and Science will meet with producers to help them understand what is required under the minimum practice agricultural standards.

The compliance program is prioritising its efforts on the areas that represent the greatest water quality threat to the Reef.

Where can I find more detailed information?

You can register to receive an information pack as well as regular updates on the regulations.

What support is available for banana producers?

Programs and support tools are provided by the Australian and Queensland governments and industry organisations to help banana producers identify opportunities to improve farming practices. For more information visit Banana support programs.