Farmers have been asking for this kind of information for a long time to help inform their farm decision-making at critical times of the year.
Results that are relevant
Thirty new water sampling sites were monitored during the 2018-19 wet season. The Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project (MIP) team is committed to analysing the data and delivering the results back to farmers within 6-8 weeks, to ensure they receive the most relevant information possible.
23 meetings were held in the different sub-catchments attended by around 85 farmers in total.
The final meetings wrapped up with a summary of water quality results from October to April. We were able to show that the highest nutrient losses from the paddock occur with the first big rain at the start of the wet season, before the plant has had a chance to take it up. In general, sediment movement was low.
Because the data included a "rainforest reference" site for each sub-catchment, we were able to show that there is little change in losses from rainforest across the whole season.
Because the data included a rainforest reference site for each sub-catchment, we were able to show that there is little change in losses from rainforest across the whole season.
For the first time, landholders have been able to ‘see’ what impact their activities may be having on local waterways and think about what on-farm measures may reduce nutrient and sediment losses. We’ve also been asked to calculate in dollar terms how much fertiliser is lost at various times of the year.
It has been invaluable to have cane, banana and pawpaw growers in the same room at shed meetings, discussing water quality issues and providing local expertise and feedback to the MIP team about future initiatives that are of interest to them.
Making water quality science clearer
Shed meetings have also helped to make sense of water quality science and jargon. It’s no newsflash that the field is awash with enough acronyms and concepts to confuse anyone! Shed meetings with small groups have been a great way for farmers to have their questions answered in a familiar environment.
Beyond the shed
Groups of extension officers, resellers and researchers who work in the cane and banana industries also met to learn about water quality results collected by the MIP team for growers, and about trials and research from other projects, all focussed on improving reef water quality.
This has been a valuable opportunity to reinforce messages and make sure everyone’s on the same page. It is an excellent platform to talk about current and future initiatives, and to work to streamline extension services offered to growers.
Don’t miss the next round of shed meetings, which will begin towards the end of the year. In the meantime, we are continuing to sample water through the dry season so we can keep improving our understanding of how nutrients and soil move off the paddock.