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Record keeping

Who needs to keep records?

Any agricultural producers undertaking commercial beef cattle grazing, sugarcane or banana cultivation in the Wet Tropics, Burdekin, Mackay Whitsunday, Fitzroy and Burnett Mary regions will need to keep records under the new Reef protection regulations.

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

When do I need to start keeping records?

Some records will need to be kept from 1 December 2019 (general records). Other records need to be kept as the new Reef protection regulations roll out to different regions for different industries. Refer to the timeframes.

What records need to be kept under the regulations?

Under the new Reef protection regulations, there are three types of records that need to be kept by producers:

  1. general records
  2. minimum standard records (including farm nitrogen and phosphorus budget records for sugarcane growers)
  3. primary documents.

There is no specific format these records need to be kept in and many producers will already be recording this information using industry developed forms.

What are general records?

These are the records that must be kept from 1 December 2019. Records must be kept about the person carrying out the activity (i.e. commercial beef cattle grazing, and/or sugarcane and/or banana cultivation) and the property it is being carried out on.

In addition, records must be kept about agricultural chemicals, fertiliser and mill mud/mill ash applied to the property as part of carrying out the activity. The term ‘agricultural chemicals’ includes any herbicides, insecticides or fungicides applied to land or crops, but does not include products applied to cattle and livestock.

These records need to be supported by primary documents such as leaf or soil tests, fertiliser contractor print-outs, fertiliser or agricultural chemical invoices.

What are minimum standard records?

Commercial graziers and sugarcane and banana growers will be required to meet minimum practice agricultural standards as they come into effect for their industry in their region over the next three years from 1 December 2019.

Minimum standard records are notes about the actions taken to meet the standards. These records are different, depending on the industry (grazing, sugarcane or bananas).

They build on the general records and must be supported by primary documents.

Requirements for sugarcane growers

For sugarcane, in addition to the general records, records must be kept of nitrogen and phosphorus calculations, fertiliser application methods, soil testing results, property and soil maps. Example forms to record sugarcane soil sampling details are included in the Prescribed methodology for sugarcane (PDF, 1.73MB).

Sugarcane growers in the Burdekin, Mackay Whitsunday and Wet Tropics regions must keep minimum standard records from 1 December 2019. Growers in the Fitzroy and Burnett Mary regions must do this from 1 December 2022.

In addition, sugarcane growers will need to keep records about their farm nitrogen and phosphorus budget. This includes records of the whole-of-farm amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus calculation, previously applied amounts, actual and historic yields, and a farm map including constraints to yield (e.g. areas with a history of lower yields – could be from waterlogging, sodicity, compaction, crop age). They also need to be supported by primary documents.

Sugarcane growers in the Wet Tropics, Burdekin and Mackay Whitsunday regions must keep these records from 1 December 2021. Growers in the Fitzroy and Burnett Mary regions must keep them from 1 December 2022.

Requirements for graziers

For grazing, in addition to the general records, a record must be kept of the measures taken to improve land towards good or fair condition, along with the location and date of these actions.

Graziers in the Burdekin region must keep minimum standard records from 1 December 2020 and in the Fitzroy region from 1 December 2021. Graziers in the Wet Tropics, Mackay Whitsunday and Burnett Mary regions must do this from 1 December 2022.

Requirements for banana growers

For bananas, in addition to the general records, records must be kept of nitrogen and phosphorus calculations and fertiliser application methods. When the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus exceeds the threshold level outlined in the minimum practice agricultural standards, growers must also develop a nutrient management plan and record the elements of the plan, including leaf sampling results. An example of a leaf sampling record form is included in the Prescribed methodology for bananas (PDF, 1.19MB).

Banana growers in the Wet Tropics region must keep minimum standard records from 1 December 2020. Growers in the Burdekin, Mackay Whitsunday, Fitzroy and Burnett Mary regions have three years to comply.

What are primary documents?

Primary documents are documents that relate to the record, for example a leaf or soil test report, fertiliser contractor print-out, or a fertiliser or agricultural chemical invoice. They must be kept and may be requested by an authorised person such as a Queensland Government compliance officer.

When do I need to make the record and how long do I need to keep the record for?

Records must be made within three days of the activity or action. They must be kept for at least six years.

Producers in the Wet Tropics, Burdekin and Mackay Whitsunday regions who are already required to create and keep records under the existing Reef protection regulations, must now keep these records for six years (previously five years).

What happens to my records?

Records need to be made available for inspection when requested by an authorised person such as a Queensland Government compliance officer. These records will be assessed against the new regulations to determine compliance.

Information collected by the Queensland Government must only be collected, stored and used in accordance with the Information Privacy Act 2009.

You can read more about the department’s privacy responsibilities.

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.

What about other requirements for records about agricultural chemicals?

You might also be required to keep records because of other legal requirements.

For example, the Chemical Usage (Agricultural and Veterinary) Control Act 1988 requires graziers and sugarcane growers in the Wet Tropics, Burdekin and Mackay Whitsunday regions to meet prescribed conditions (including record keeping) for using, preparing, storing and possessing ametryn, atrazine, diuron, hexazinone and tebuthiuron.

For more information on this requirement, please refer to ‘Agricultural chemicals’ on the Business Queensland website.