New or expanding cropping

What are the requirements for new cropping and horticulture?

All new or expanding commercial cropping and horticulture 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 now requires an environmental authority (permit) before cropping or any preparatory work can take place.

The permit requires growers to undertake measures to minimise fine sediment and dissolved inorganic nitrogen from their cropping entering waterways.

The new activity must also meet any minimum practice agricultural standards that apply for the particular crop, for example, the standards for growing sugarcane or bananas.

For more information, please view the frequently asked questions (PDF, 1.4 MB) or contact the Permits and Licensing Management area at or call 1300 130 372 (select option 4).

How do I know if I need a permit?

A permit is required for most types of crops including commercially grown grains and horticulture, sugarcane and banana production.

A permit is not required for timber production, crops that are grown in a closed system (e.g. hydroponically), forestry activities and non-commercial activities. An example of a non-commercial crop is where fodder crops are grown by graziers for their own cattle and are not sold to other producers.

Use this handy checklist to work out if you need a permit (PDF, 665 KB) . More detailed information is also available in the Application Guide (PDF, 2.2 MB) .

Applying for a permit

Step 1: Register as a ‘suitable operator’

Before the department can issue you with a permit, you must be registered as a ‘suitable operator’.

You can do this by completing an application online or requesting an application form by emailing the Permits and Licensing Management area at or calling 1300 130 372 (select option 4).

Step 2: Determine which type of permit application you need to make

There are three different application types for a permit:

Standard application (DOCX, 174KB) – A simplified process for growers who can meet the eligibility criteria and standard conditions outlined in the ‘ERA standard’.

Variation application (DOCX, 152KB) – A flexible process for growers who can meet the eligibility criteria but wish to vary one or more of the standard conditions in the ‘ERA standard’.

Site-specific application (DOCX, 123KB) – A comprehensive process for growers who cannot meet the eligibility criteria in the ‘ERA standard’. This application requires site-specific information to be provided for the activity.

Step 3: Lodge your permit application

Permit applications for new commercial cropping and horticulture must be submitted by either post or email:

Permit and Licensing Management
Department of Environment and Science
GPO Box 2454


Applications cannot be accepted at Queensland Government regional offices.

Processing times for applications vary depending on the application type. Fees also apply.

Complying with a permit

You must comply with all the conditions on your permit.

For a standard application, you will be required to comply with all of the standard conditions in the ERA standard. Practical information on how to comply is available in the Standard Conditions Guide (PDF, 3.6 MB) .