Reef protection regulations in the Great Barrier Reef regions

The Reef protection regulations started on 1 December 2019 and will be rolled out across Reef catchments over the next three years. The table below describes the timing of commencement for each region.

When will the Reef protection regulations apply for banana growers


Record Keeping

Minimum practice agricultural standards

New or expanded cropping activities

Wet Tropics

1 December 2019

1 December 2020

1 June 2020

Burdekin, Mackay Whitsunday

Fitzroy and Burnett Mary

1 December 2019

1 December 2022

1 June 2020

Cape York



1 June 2020


Why are regulations required for banana production?

The minimum practice agricultural standards for banana production focus on retaining nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment on-farm to minimise runoff and improve water quality. Most of the new requirements do not apply to existing growers in the Cape York region as the region has met its water quality targets. The Queensland Government has made a commitment that the minimum practice agricultural standards will remain substantially unchanged for the next five years.

What records do I need to keep?

All banana growers are required to keep general records from 1 December 2019 and then minimum standard records as the minimum practice agricultural standards are rolled out across each region. Records can be in any format but must be made within three business days, kept for at least six years and be available when requested by an authorised person such as a compliance officer.

General records

For banana growers, general records must include:

· Name of the banana producer (i.e. the person(s) carrying out the activity)

· Name of person making record

· Company name (if applicable)

· Property address/es

· Postal address

· Farm identification number/s (if applicable)

· A list of the lots included in all the farms within the agricultural enterprise

· Records of agricultural chemicals (any pesticide, herbicide or fungicide applied to land or crops), fertiliser and mill mud/mill ash applied and specifically:

·         location of each application (e.g. farm number with block name or management zone)

·         date of each application

·         agricultural chemical (any pesticide, herbicide or fungicide applied to land or crops) and/or fertiliser product (including mill mud/mill ash) applied to each location with product name, application rate (kg/ha, L/ha or tonnes/ha for mill mud/mill ash) and for fertiliser product percentage of nitrogen and phosphorus.

What minimum practice agricultural standards do I need to comply with?

The minimum practice agricultural standards for banana growers are to:

· Minimise sediment loss to waterways by having appropriate erosion and sediment control measures in places where there is a high risk of soil loss from the farm.

· Ensure fallow blocks have adequate covered ground at appropriate times in the banana crop cycle.

· Ensure inter-rows on plant blocks have at least 60% covered ground before 1 November (wet season) (unless undertaking renovation works).

· Ensure inter-rows on ratoon blocks have at least 60% covered ground (unless undertaking renovation works).

Crop Stage




280 kg/ha/year

60 kg/ha/year


400 kg/ha/year

60 kg/ha/year


If the annual amount of nitrogen and phosphorus applied to the farm remains below the maximum levels stated in the table above, growers do not need to change their current fertiliser rates.

If the annual amount of nitrogen and phosphorus will exceed the levels stated in the table above, growers will need to develop a nutrient management plan with an appropriate person using the prescribed methodology for banana cultivation.

Minimum standard records

For banana producers, minimum standard records must be included for nitrogen and phosphorus application and the amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus (kg/ha) calculated for each block. The method of fertiliser application must also be recorded. Documents such as leaf test reports, fertiliser contractor print-outs and fertiliser invoices can be used as records.

If growers want to apply higher nutrient rates than listed in the above table, they will need to develop a nutrient management plan. Records for these plans are:

·         A farm map/s showing block boundaries, block identifiers, block area (ha), and leaf sampling locations.

·         The results of leaf testing for nitrogen and phosphorus.

·         Annual nitrogen and phosphorus application rates applied (kg/ha/yr).

·         Annual yields achieved (for example, the total number of cartons per year per farm).

·         Nitrogen and phosphorus recommendations from an appropriate person, including: a. recommended application rates b. appropriate frequency of application.

·         Names, date and contact details of the appropriate person/s who have developed and verified the nutrient management plan for the agricultural property.

How will compliance work?

The Queensland Government’s compliance program will be prioritising its efforts on the areas that represent the greatest water quality threat to the Reef. If a grower is selected for an audit, compliance officers will meet with the grower to help them understand what is required under the minimum practice agricultural standards.

For more detailed information on the Reef regulations check out the website – or contact the ABGC extension team on 07 40152797.