Projects

A selection of current projects:

  • ◽ An evidence based approach to water quality improvement in the Barratta Creek Catchment (funded by BRIA irrigators through the Great Barrier Reef Foundation).

    The Barratta Creek Project is managed by BRIA Irrigators Ltd and funded by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. This two-year project is an evidence based, farmer driven project that aims to reduce nutrient and agricultural chemical losses from farms in the Barratta Creek catchment. This will be achieved through the adoption of sustainable farming practices that have water quality productivity benefits. This will be validated through independent, on-farm monitoring.

    The two-year project involves water quality monitoring on eight trial sites. Burdekin Productivity Services (BPS) are providing the agronomic guidance on four of the sites and Farmacist are providing the agronomic guidance on the other four. BBIFMAC has been engaged as an independent organisation to undertake the water quality monitoring and associated analysis and reporting on all eight trial sites. These sites were sourced through a collaborative effort between organisations in the Barratta Creek Action Group.


  • ◽ Cane to Creek 2.0

    Cane to Creek 2.0 builds on the work of Sugar Research Australia’s (SRA) Protecting our Chemicals for the Future through the Adoption of Best Management Practice and the original Cane to Creek project, based in the Mulgrave-Russell. The project is funded by the Australian Government through the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and SRA’s Adoption Unit. The Cane to Creek 2.0 project works with local sugarcane communities to make connections between water quality from cane paddocks to local creeks and beyond. This is achieved by investigating farming practices that can improve water quality outcomes without sacrificing profitability and practicality. BBIFMAC’s role in this project is to identify and quantify nutrient and pesticide losses in the Burdekin region with independent, on-farm, water quality monitoring at three of the six trial sites, in order to enhance knowledge of the loss mechanisms at the paddock and sub-catchment scale, and communicate these to the Sugarcane industry and participating farmers.


  • ◽ Great Barrier Reef Catchment Load Monitoring in the Burdekin and Bowen catchments (funded by DES).

    The Great Barrier Reef Catchment Loads Monitoring Program is a large-scale water quality monitoring program that helps track long-term trends in water quality entering the Great Barrier Reef lagoon from adjacent catchments along the east coast of Queensland. The monitoring data reported by the program are used to validate the catchment water quality models that track progress towards the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan (Reef 2050 WQIP) 2025 water quality targets. In 2016-2017 the program provided measures of annual loads (mass) of total suspended solids and nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) from 17 priority major catchments and pesticide risk in 14 priority major catchments that discharge into the Great Barrier Reef lagoon. The program is part of the Paddock to Reef Integrated Monitoring, Modelling and Reporting Program (Paddock to Reef program). The Paddock to Reef program provides the framework for evaluating and reporting progress towards the Reef 2050 WQIP targets and objectives through the Reef Water Quality Report Card 2017 and 2018. BBIFMAC’s role in this project is to undertake the water quality monitoring for the Burdekin-Bowen area.


  • ◽ Barratta Creek catchment constructed wetland proof of concept (funded by DES).

    BBIFMAC have recently completed the Constructed Wetland Project, funded by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science (DES). The project included the collection & analysis of close to 200 water samples over a 2-year period. The site is located in the Barratta Creek Catchment, in the Burdekin River Irrigation Area near Ayr, North Queensland. The aim of the project was to demonstrate the feasibility of converting an abandoned 2 hectare borrow pit into a low cost, low energy, constructed surface-flow treatment wetland. Overall, the water quality results indicated that the wetland functioned well over the monitoring period and had a positive impact on reducing various forms of Nitrogen, total suspended solids (TSS) and several key pesticide concentrations when comparing levels obtained at the inlets to the outlet. The project collaborators and contributors include DAF, Sunwater, Burdekin Shire Council, Wilmar, Australian Wetland Consulting, the neighbouring landholders, and the project steering committee.


  • ◽ Empowering Burdekin women to tackle reef water quality issues through peer to peer learning (funded by DAF).

    The Empowering Burdekin Women project consisted of two training days, held 6 months apart, whereby The Burdekin Women in Sugar (WISB) group, Isis Canegrowers, and the broader Burdekin cane community came together to enhance peer to peer learning between women in the district. The events were funded through the Queensland Government's Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) Enhanced Extension Program Peer to Peer funding in partnership with local not-for-profit community group, BBIFMAC.

    The two training sessions were designed and delivered by a team of Brisbane-based behavioural scientists from Behaviour Innovation, a group with previous experience engaging with women in cane through Project Cane Changer. The first training session focused around bolstering community support for farming families involved in the Smartcane Best Management Practice program (BMP), an industry-led best practice system for sugarcane growing and farm record-keeping.

    Women from the group provided their tips and tricks for achieving accreditation in the program and shared their experiences of helping others in the district. Smartcane BMP facilitator, Terry Granshaw, was also on hand to provide information about the program and help guide discussions. The second workshop covered change management, with Angela Williams from Isis Canegrowers, and members of Project Cane Changer as guest speakers. The topics of discussion included understanding the underlying psychology behind behaviour change in the cane industry, learning how to manage change, peer support tools and skills to create positive local news stories and tackle the often difficult issues surrounding reef water quality from a farming perspective, and how to create conditions to lead and engage others in the industry in peer to peer learning. Event organisers, Terri Buono (DAF) and Arwen Rickert (BBIFMAC) saw great value in providing the group with the opportunity to further their skill development.


  • ◽ Reducing Burdekin sediments through practice change (funded by NQDT).

    The NQ Dry Tropics ‘Reducing Burdekin Sediment’ Project aims to minimise the impact of fine sediment and other pollutants on water quality through improving the ability of local wetlands to trap fine sediments and other pollutants, and additionally support local cane growers with water quality monitoring and extension activities to improve farm management and reduce fine sediment and agricultural fertiliser products in tail water runoff. BBIFMAC’s role in this project has been to install water quality sampling equipment, collect runoff and inflow samples, analyse the water quality results, and provide water quality enhancement advice based on the results obtained at 12 participating farms within the Burdekin region.


  • ◽ Spicing up the North - spice and condiment trial with CQU (funded by CRCNA).

    The North Queensland Spice trial is being undertaken with Central Queensland University (CQU) and Kenrose Farming Co with funding from the Cooperative Research Centre for Northern Australia (CRCNA). The trial locations included four sites in Queensland (Biloela, Rockhamptom, Ayr, Tully) and two sites in the Northern Territory (Darwin, Katherine). The trial consists of both a summer and winter season crop, with spice varieties including Black Sesame, Fennel, Caraway, Cumin, and Kalonji. The purpose of this spice trial is to determine the suitability of these condiment crops for the conditions in the tropics, and develop a reliable market should the crops be appropriate in local conditions. BBIFMAC’s role in this project has been to monitor the crop growth and progression, record soil moisture, and harvest the crop for the trial site at Rita Island.


  • ◽ Pyott's Lagoon restoration (funded by Burdekin Shire Council).

    Pyott’s Lagoon is a natural lagoon located within the Lower Burdekin region of North Queensland, near the township of Ayr. Due to elevated water volumes and nutrient content from irrigation runoff from surrounding cane farms and the local irrigation channels, aquatic weeds have become a significant environmental threat to the system. The aim of the project is to protect and enhance the biodiversity and habitat values of Pyott’s Lagoon through regular removal of aquatic weed species. The major target weed species for control are Hymenachne (Hymenachne amplexicaulis), Bullrush (Typha domingensis), Paragrass (Urochloa mutica), Salvinia (Salvinia molesta), Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) and Indian Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera). Building on the work that NQ Dry Tropics, Burdekin Shire Council and the Lower Burdekin Water Board had already done to tackle aquatic weeds in the system, BBIFMAC applied for an Environmental Levy Grant through Burdekin Shire Council to work with local landholders to control weeds in the area, including the development and construction of a purpose built aquatic herbicide spray unit.


  • ◽ Telstra Bluespot Monitoring (funded by DES).

    The Telstra Bluespot Project is a joint collaboration between Intellidesign, Telstra, DES, and DNRME to install and maintain a small monitoring network at several Creek and Bore locations across the Burdekin region. BBIFMAC’s role in this project has been the equipment installation, monitoring and maintenance of the 43 Bluespot sites.


  • ◽ Toomey's Lagoon Diatomix Project.

    Diatomix is an innovative and proven way to improve water quality in lakes, lagoons, streams, rivers, dams and aquaculture ponds. Diatomix was developed by AlgaEnviro, and provides a natural, sustainable method to control toxic blooms, floating scum, aquatic weeds and fish kills, without adding poisons or undertaking expensive aquatic weed removal. Diatomix is a micronutrient mixture which manages water health by removing excess nutrients to rebalance the water and prevent the conditions that cause toxic algae and aquatic weeds to proliferate. The Burdekin Shire Council have deployed Diatomix stations at Toomey’s Lagoon. BBIFMAC’s role within this project has been to collect water samples from the lagoon, conduct water quality analysis, and report the results back to the Council.

  • Recently completed projects include:

  • ◽ Connecting Canefarmers to their Local Wetlands (for NQDT).

  • ◽ Landscape Resilience - Horseshoe Lagoon Water Quality Monitoring (for NQDT).

  • ◽ Winter Rice Trial Water Quality Monitoring (for Farmacist).

  • ◽ Maximisation of Effectiveness of Legumes in Sugarcane (for DSITI).

  • ◽ Demonstration Trials Assessing Sugarcane Productivity and Water Quality Impacts of Mill By-products(for EHP and Wilmar).

  • ◽ Barratta Creek Catchment Water Quality Improvement (for DAF and BRIA Irrigators Ltd).

  • ◽ Remediation of Agricultural Runoff using High Rate Algal Ponds - a feasilibility study (for DAF).

  • ◽ Partnering with MSF Sugar to Improve Nitrogen Use Efficiency in Sugar Cane (for EHP).

  • Links to additional information on past projects:

  • ◽ Soil Microbes Pot Trial.

  • ◽ Salvinia Weevil Breeding Program in Burdekin Schools.

  • ◽ Nitrogen Farmers.

  • ◽ Energy Efficiency Gains for Australian Irrigators.

  • ◽ A Sub Catchment Adaptive Management Approach to Water Quality in Sugarcane.