Growers prove their Great Barrier Reef water quality credentials

10 May 2017

Growers prove their Great Barrier Reef water quality credentials

Far north Queensland cane growers in the most Reef-sensitive areas are proving their commitment to improved water quality through accreditation in the industry’s Smartcane BMP program.

25% of the sugarcane land from Ingham to Mossman has now been independently accredited as being farmed at or above industry best practice standard.

In one of the highest-priority reef water catchment areas, all five members of the CANEGROWERS Innisfail grower-elected board have achieved Smartcane BMP accreditation.

“They are leading by example and can demonstrate to their communities, government regulators and the international sugar market that they are farming in a sustainable manner to protect the Reef while maintaining productivity and profitability,” CANEGROWERS CEO Dan Galligan said.

78% of the cane farm land in the Wet Tropics region is now benchmarked against Smartcane BMP’s best management practice criteria for soil health and nutrient management, drainage management and the management of weeds, pests and diseases. These businesses are working towards accreditation.

“Growers right along the far north Queensland coast are very conscious of their responsibilities living, as they do, next door to the Reef. It’s their backyard and they want to do their best by it,” Mr Galligan said.

“They also understand that the tourism industry, along with the sugar industry, is a key economic driver for their communities and regional Queensland.

“CANEGROWERS now puts out the call to the growers who are yet to become part of Smartcane BMP to get on board so we can all be recognised for our efforts and tell our story!”

The CANEGROWERS Innisfail board is:

JOE MARANO, CHAIRMAN “Smartcane BMP accreditation has given us a whole of farm plan that makes us consider any actions that could have an effect on water quality. Having all directors accredited gives us the confidence to go to our members and encourage them to be a part of it and do their bit for Reef protection.”

VICTOR GUARRERA “My Smartcane BMP accreditation means that I am farming to the highest level possible in my area, reducing nutrient losses and maintaining the best water quality that can be achieved. All of the Board members being accredited means that we are committed and that we all value the environment.”

WAYNE GATTERA “Smartcane BMP is my social licence to farm. I got a lot out of the process through workshops and engagement, it’s about continuous improvement. Having the Board accredited shows that the district is committed to sustainable farming and committed to saving the Reef while also increasing productivity. It is leading by example!”

ALAN COLGRAVE “As someone who farms adjacent to mangrove wetlands, achieving Smartcane BMP accreditation has given me considerable comfort to know that my farming operation achieves expectations set by markets, regulators and the community. A willingness by the CANEGROWERS Innisfail Board to lead by example will hopefully inspire growers to progress towards BMP accreditation.”

SAM SPINA “Smartcane BMP will allow our farming methods to be scrutinised as they've been found to be in accordance with both government and community expectations. Accreditation of our Board and the fact that we are leading the state in area of cane-land accredited is a proud moment, not only within our district, but also across all of Queensland.”