Reef Water Quality

Banana Industry Water Quality Strategy 2017-2020

The banana industry has a great reputation for adopting environmental best management practices. The majority of growers respect the natural environment and the Great Barrier Reef and understand the impact their farming can have on the quality of water into local catchments.

The North Queensland banana industry Water Quality Strategy 2017-2020 has been written with a focus on extension and working with growers to help them improve their adoption of nutrient and sediment management practices.


Reef Trust III

ABGC is part of the Reef Alliance

The ABGC is part of the Reef Alliance which is a partnership of agricultural industry groups (including cane, grazing and horticultural industries), regional natural resource management bodies and WWF Australia (representing the conservation sector).  The Reef Alliance provides a mechanism for stakeholders to lead and coordinate a program of land use change improvement.  Together, the Reef Alliance members share information, resources and ideas, and mix their respective skill sets to deliver behavioural change in land managers and communities. Together the Reef Alliance successfully bid for funding from the Reef Trust III Programme to help growers and landholders improve the quality of water leaving their farms.

ABGC’s role in Reef Trust III

The ABGC is delivering the banana industry’s component of the Australian Government’s Reef Trust Phase III Programme. The aim of the programme is to improve the water quality of the receiving waters of the Great Barrier Reef.  The ABGC’s Reef Extension team will be working with growers over the next two years to help them improve their on-farm practices and profitability.

The ABGC’s funding covers three main elements:

·         Grants for on-farm nutrient and sediment practice change

·         Extension to support practice change

·         Innovation funding to trial novel practices that could improve the industry’s farming practices

Reef Trust III Programme

The Reef Trust Phase III Programme  consists of a suite of integrated components that seek to engage agricultural land managers operating within the Great Barrier Reef catchments to facilitate the increase in adoption of specific management practices to reduce pollutant loss. The Australian Government has worked in collaboration with the Queensland Government, scientists, industry and natural resource management stakeholders to identify these priority components.


Since 2008, 166 projects have been funded which has improved over 13 000 hectares of banana production area.  Over the last nine years of reef grants, some farms have invested in multiple projects to introduce a number of improvements to their farms.

Why and how growers should get involved:

Reef Trust III funding and support is available to North Queensland banana growers who have completed their Banana BMP.  If you haven’t completed your BMP , please contact Robert Mayers on 0447 000 203 or email and he can arrange a time that suits you to visit you at your farm.  The ABGC Reef Extension Team will be running a number of workshops over the next two years, so keep an eye out for expressions of interest.  The second round of grants will also be open towards the end of 2017, so if you have a water quality project you wish to implement, keep in mind there is support available.  Growers wishing to access extension support or that have an idea that could make a big difference to the way the industry currently farms are encouraged to contact the team at South Johnstone Research Station.  There is funding available to trial novel or innovative practices or machinery that will lead to a water quality benefit.

For further information on Reef Trust III funding and support available to banana growers in North Queensland, please contact Sarah Simpson on (07) 4015 2797 or email


Decision Support Tools

BetterBunch video on YouTube

Environmental BMP on ABGC website

BMP video – Environmentally sustainable practices in Australian Banana Farming


Fertigation Information

ABGC Fertigation video on YouTube

Growcom case study: ‘It pays to have a fertigation assessment’

Growcom case study: ‘Fertigation – Case Study 2 – Australian Government Reef Rescue Programme

Growcom – Water for Profit Case Study – Craig Van Rooyen – YouTube video – Testing fertigation system showed that fertiliser was reaching plants much earlier than the grower thought so they were applying more fertigation than was required which meant possible leaching

Growcom – Water for Profit Case Study – Austchilli – YouTube video – tested efficiency of fertigation system and it was similar to the ‘best guess’ the grower had made – still found efficiencies of 10 minutes’ worth of fertigation was getting stuck in the mains.

Growcom – Water for profit case study – Charles Camuglia, Fresh Yellow – YouTube video – testing fertigation system

Sediment management

Banana Soil Conservation with Darryl Evans

Sediment management at Gaia’s banana farm, includes a constructed wetland

Department of Environment and Heritage Protection Queensland Wetlands Program contains factsheets on:

·         Sediment basins

·         Buffer strips

·         Vegetation swales and drains

·         Farm run-off treatment systems – toolkit

·         Constructed (treatment) wetlands

·         Wetland Rehabilitation Guidelines: for the Great Barrier Reef catchment

·         + many more

Nutrient Management

Banana Nutrition with Sellars Bananas

Runoff of fertilizers in Great Barrier Reef (NatGeo)

Irrigation Information

ABGC Irrigation video on YouTube

Growcom Factsheet – Water for profit – Benchmark – irrigating bananas in north Queensland

Growcom Factsheet – Water for profit – Benchmark – irrigating bananas

Growcom Factsheet – Water for profit – Choosing a soil-water monitoring tool

Growcom Factsheet – Water for profit – Scheduling tools – advantages and disadvantages

Growcom Factsheet – Water for profit – Positioning of soil-water monitoring tools

Growcom Factsheet – Water for profit – Tensiometers in Irrigation

Growcom – Water for profit case study – Willem Bezuidenhout, WillBy – YouTube video – reducing pump size and using solar reduced electricity costs

Government Reef Projects and Report Cards

Reef Water Quality Protection Plan

Reef Trust Investment Strategy Phase III

Reef 2050 Plan

Major Integrated Project for the Wet Tropics and Burdekin catchments

Reef Water Quality Science Program

Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) – Backgrounder: Impact of land runoff

Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) – water quality monitoring

Terrain NRM (an NGO) is managing the Major Integrated Project for Wet Tropics catchment

Reef Plan report cards

2013 Scientific Consensus Statement: Land use impacts on Great Barrier Reef water quality and ecosystem condition

Wet Tropics Healthy Waterways Partnership – Pilot report card

Other Useful Resources

Growcom case study: ‘Herbicide management – spot sprayer’

Queensland Farmers Federation Newsroom – updates on what is happening within the QFF

Reef and Rainforest Research Centre (RRRC) – Science in Water Quality: Water Quality Research

Information about farming in reef catchments is available on the Queensland Government’s website

The Improved Practices Catalogue which is an online resource for farmers in the Great Barrier Reef catchments is available on the Queensland Government’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry website. The catalogue highlights a number of key practices and aggregates the evidence both for the benefits to water quality with the economic costs and benefits.

Growcom – Water for profit resources – Factsheets on:

·      Monitoring systems

·      Irrigation management

·      Irrigation scheduling calculation sheets

·      Crop water use efficiency benchmarking for a range of crops

·      Sustainable irrigation

·      System evaluation

GBRMPA – Managing the reef

WWF Video – We are all connected by water – a video showing all the work that sugarcane growers have done to improve water quality – may be some useful ideas for banana growers

National Environmental Science Programme (NESP) – The Tropical Water Quality Hub (TWQ) – Project 25

YouTube video – Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Programme (NESP) – The Tropical Water Quality Hub (TWQ) – Project 25

Scientists and farmers working together for the future of water quality monitoring in Great Barrier Reef catchments

 Flyers and Case Studies