Innovative banana farmer transforms land to improve water quality

March 19, 2020

A Moresby banana grower’s leading-edge farm transformation is turning heads in the Johnstone region.

Gavin Devaney from Bartle Frere Bananas has converted a 65-acre cane paddock into a best practice banana farm with innovative water quality runoff solutions.

Earthworks on the property, which is located beside the Bruce Highway just south of Innisfail, have attracted plenty of attention.

“People thought I was sub dividing the land with the amount of earthworks happening,” Mr Devaney said.

His aim is to improve the farm’s layout and reduce its environmental impacts while also maintaining productivity and profitability.

Supported by industry representative body Australian Banana Growers’ Council and the Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project (MIP), the Devaneys have implemented a combination of best management practice principles and innovative drainage solutions.

Mr Devaney said water quality was front of mind from word go. He met the cost of implementing the farm re-design while allowing the Wet Tropics MIP to utilise approximately two acres of productive land to fund and trial an innovative in-drain wetland on his farm.

The in-drain wetland system is being trialled to determine its ability to replicate the same nitrogen removal process that occurs naturally in a wetland, as well as the potential to remove sediment and pesticides from water flowing from agricultural land into local waterways.

MIP Johnstone Basin Coordinator Sandra Henrich said that many growers in the Johnstone region are implementing practices to improve their farms in line with best management principles.

“We always knew that it would be the growers who would devise locally relevant solutions to improve water quality. The region is one of a kind and their solutions need to follow suit” she said. 

“They say necessity is the mother of invention. Farmers have been inventors for years – the MIP respects that skill and ingenuity and supports growers to trial what they know will work.” The Wet Tropics MIP is funded by the Queensland Government through the Queensland Reef Water Quality Program