Survey work commences on Cassowary Coast farms

July 31, 2018

Soil and topographic work is underway at sites for bioreactors and constructed wetlands on cane and banana farms in the Cassowary Coast region.

Contractors are undertaking topographical surveys and soil samples at first stage sites in the Johnstone and Tully catchments to help guide the design and construction stages of systems repair technologies.

The Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project (MIP) initiatives aim to reduce nutrient and sediment loads entering the Great Barrier Reef, and serve as a pilot program for other catchment areas.

MIP Catchment Repair Officer Suzette Argent said 40 on-farm sites were assessed over the past three months and detailed investigations were now happening on ‘first-stage’ sites.

“We’re grateful for the opportunity to work with banana and cane farmers to trial these technologies in the Wet Tropics.’’

“There has been a lot of work to get to this point, and it’s valuable for stakeholders and panel members to see sites in the flesh, and hear more about the challenges (and successes!) of getting ideas off the table and on the ground,” said Ms Argent.

James Cook University’s Dr Alex Cheesman said soil samples had been sent off for laboratory analysis.

“The topographic surveys identify key landform heights, and help determine how the water moves in the landscape,’’ he said.

“With them we can ensure whatever is designed doesn’t impact drainage, and does a good job at treating water.”

“We also take core soil samples to learn about the underlying soil. The designs for the catchment repair technologies need to work with the underlying soil materials – understanding what we’ve got helps manage earth movement and on-ground works appropriately.”

The Queensland Government, through the Queensland Reef Water Quality Program, is investing up to $15 million in the MIP – a program led by a consortium of over 40 organisations and designed by hundreds of people from the community.

An industry-based project panel oversees the project, and recently visited some of the first stage sites.