Tully a hotspot for water quality innovation

May 13, 2019

This week’s IRF World Rafting Championships in Tully are putting the spotlight on the Tully River - renowned for its white water rafting but just as much a hotspot for water quality innovations to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

The Tully region’s high rainfall and fast river flows create conditions that make it challenging for land users.

Peter Lucy, Manager of Tully Canegrowers, said the rafting competition was an opportunity to communicate some of the work going on in the region to improve water quality.

“Tully relies on a productive and profitable agricultural industry - it’s the lifeblood of our community. But our climate and geography mean we need to balance the needs of sustainable farming businesses with our impacts on the environment,” Mr Lucy said.

“Many of our local farmers are involved in industry and reef programs that are helping them make changes to farming practices to benefit water quality. It’s not just time and effort that’s being put in, but significant investment from their own pockets too.”

“Farming’s not the easiest game in the world. Farmers are generally trying to farm more sustainably, and trying to do that without going broke,” Mr Lucy said.

Several government-funded programs are bringing investment into the region through grants opportunities for landholders, technical support and training and education, and this is helping to accelerate farm practice changes already happening in the region.

Alex Lindsay, Extension Officer with the Wet Tropics Sugar Industry Partnership (WTSIP), is working with cane growers in the Tully district as part of the Australian Government’s Reef Trust III program.

“We’re working with growers to develop customised nutrient management plans, which is not only improving water quality but also making farming systems more profitable and sustainable for the long term,” he said.

“With 3000-4000mm of rainfall a year, it’s a real challenge for growers to feed the crops and not lose nutrients, so nutrient management plans are not just about what fertiliser you use but how you use it. We want to address constraints to maximise the uptake of applied nutrients.”

A number of other programs are also supporting farmers across industries to innovate and trial new machinery or practices that focus on improving water quality, profitability and sustainability.

The IRF World Rafting Championships will run from 13-20 May 2019. For more information about the championships visit www.wrc2019.com

For more information about farmer innovations and practice changes:  Alex Lindsay, Wet Tropics Sugar Industry Partnership – 0427 231 971