New Data for Farmers

March 20, 2019

Farmers now have a better idea of the quality of water in their own backyards, as part of a reef water quality project being delivered in the Tully and Johnstone basins.

Almost 30 new sites are being monitored as part of the Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project (MIP), and data being provided back to farmers at a series of local shed meetings.

The monitoring program is capturing water quality data at different scales.

Basin Coordinator Sandra Henrich said that up until now, most monitoring results have been aggregated from a large area with lots of different users and uses.

“End of catchment monitoring gives a ‘big picture’ look at long term trends in the quality of water entering the Great Barrier Reef lagoon, but it makes it hard for someone to know what their relative contribution is,” she said.

Monitoring at the paddock scale compares different land management practices and the effect that improved practices have on water quality.

Sub-catchment monitoring tracks how water quality changes as it moves down a creek system through different land uses and land types, including rainforest, agriculture and urban.

“Lots of factors, like rainfall, soil type and management practices all influence how nutrients, sediment and pesticide move, and how water quality is affected,” said Ms Henrich.

“There’s no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ data – it’s all just information that helps landholders understand how nutrients, sediment and pesticides are behaving in the basin, so they can tailor practical solutions.”

“Farmers have been asking for this kind of data for a long time. It will contribute to a growing bank of information that will help inform farm decision making,” said Ms Henrich.

Dean Sinton attended in the Innisfail region. “We’ve been asking for more localised water quality results and that’s what we’re getting,” he said.

Ms Henrich said that everyone is particularly keen to see how the wet season affects water quality.

The series of shed meetings have been running from November last year. Water quality monitoring data have been delivered at 14 shed meetings across the Johnstone and Tully, to around 85 farmers.

Shed meetings will continue throughout the year. For more information contact Fiona George (Tully) on 0488 702 203 or Sandra Henrich (Johnstone) on 0439 916 749.

The Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project is funded by the Queensland Government through the Queensland Reef Water Quality Program.

Above: Installation of paddock scale monitoring equipment that compares the effect that different practices have on water quality. Below: Solar, flume and platform