The Australian Government is tackling water quality in the Great Barrier Reef by providing $2.8 million to sugarcane farmers in the Burdekin region to reduce nitrogen run-off to the Reef lagoon.
“This round of funding, provided as part of the Government’s $140 million Reef Trust investment, will assist local farmers to deliver projects that will help transform their farming operations with more nitrogen-efficient practices,” Minister Hunt said.
“Nitrogen run-off from farms along the Great Barrier Reef is one of the current risks to the Reef’s health and is linked to outbreaks of the coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish.”
Improving water quality boosts the resilience of the reef to deal with challenges such as the current coral bleaching event.
“We understand the importance of the Great Barrier Reef to local communities and the vital role our farmers, who live along the Reef, have in protecting its health,” Mr Christensen said.
“As part of the Government’s $140 million Reef Trust investment, we are working in partnership with local sugarcane farmers who are taking another step towards improving water quality entering the Great Barrier Reef.”
A competitive tender has been held to find sugarcane farmers that have the most effective ideas to reduce the amount of nitrogen that flows to the Reef.
“The level of competition in this competitive tender was high, which is why I have decided to increase the available Reef Trust funding for this project,” Minister Hunt said.
“All suitable projects that offered value for money are being funded.”
The actions to be undertaken by the successful applicants in this competitive tender will directly contribute to the target set out in the Reef 2050 Plan – which is to achieve at least a 50 per cent reduction in the amount of dissolved inorganic nitrogen entering the Reef’s waters from priority areas by 2018.
“The projects to be implemented by farmers offer a reduction of more than 490 tonnes of nitrogen applied to participating farms over a three-year period,” Mr Christensen said.
“The participating 17 farms make up close to 10 per cent of the cane area in the Burdekin.”
We look forward to continuing to work in partnership with sugarcane farmers living alongside the Great Barrier Reef coast to design future projects to improve both farm efficiency and environmental outcomes.