The chemical monitoring program in the Barratta Creek catchment was the topic for a gathering last week in Ayr. The session was sponsored by the Burdekin Cane Extension Group whose aim is to provide an effective means of communication amongst the Burdekin sugar industry extension network.
Twenty people including cane farmers, extension staff, representatives from Canegrowers Burdekin Ltd, Pioneer Cane Growers, BRIA Irrigators Committee, Wilmar, BBIFMAC, NQ Dry Tropics and Queensland Government heard that under the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan 2013 (Reef Plan) the Lower Burdekin, Haughton and Barratta Creek catchments are priority areas for the management of pesticides and nutrients, with a target of a reduction in concentrations of pesticides of 60% by 2018.
Ryan Turner, Principal Scientist with the Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts, Aaron Davis, TropWATER’s Senior Research Officer, Allan Blair, Reef Plan project officer Queensland Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry, Evan Shannon, agronomist Farmacist and Rob Milla manager Burdekin Productivity Services were invited to present on topics relevant to pesticide movement and retention in the Lower Burdekin floodplain and farming practices to minimise risk of loss.
Participants were able to interact with presenters and gain a better understanding of where, how and why water quality monitoring is occurring in Barratta Creek, the origin, types of chemicals, quantity being detected over the guidelines and the risks and implications to the environment and the sugar cane industry.
Participants were united in their willingness to discuss a way forward and acknowledged there was no single solution to the complex issue. All agreed improved communication was vital to ensure local growers had access to the latest water quality data and farm practice information, and it was also clear that growers wanted a process they could lead themselves. Increased adoption of on-farm management practices such as managing weeds in the fallow and targeting applications when weeds are small and lower rates can be used, training in chemical label interpretation, more demonstration trials of new banded herbicide applicators and strategic tail water recycling could all be steps in the right direction.
Terri Buono Reef Plan DAFF 3330-4509 or Rob Milla Burdekin Productivity Services 47 83-1101, would be happy to talk to any grower wanting more information.