Darryl Evans, Soil Conservationist, has helped more than 100 banana growers in the Far North keep many tonnes of soil on their farms. He is leaving for regional South East Queensland to fully retire and make time for his growing family.
About his work, Darryl said, “The most satisfying part has been helping a landholder mark out and establish a soil conservation layout and then being told that after a storm or rainfall event the water running off the paddock was clean. That means the erosion has been controlled.”
Since 1983, Darryl has worked in the Far North in a range of soil conservation and pest management related roles. Most recently as a consultant, he has been influential in the Australian Banana Growers’ Council’s (ABGC) Best Practice Grants process and supported farmers undertaking sediment management projects, to get the best out of their farm whilst contributing to improved water quality flowing to the Reef.
Some of the activities he has guided and overseen as part of the Grants program include:
Farm planning – design: contouring, laser levelling, row spacing, slope, drainage, sediment traps, wetlands, plant spacing, inter-row profiles, roads and headlands
Farm management – renovations and maintenance: ground cover and traffic management
Grower, Craig Buchanan said, “I remember working as a 15-year-old with Darryl when he was helping us design our Palmerston farm. Over 30 years, he has advised us on the planning of 1,000 acres, and I can clearly see the benefits of his work.”
Darryl began his soil conservation career in 1967 as a cadet at the Department of Primary Industries on the Darling Downs. He worked in various locations throughout Queensland and moved to the Cassowary Coast in 1983 where, as a public servant, he assisted both cane and banana growers in improving their on-farm sediment management practices.
“Darryl will be sorely missed in our region,” said ABGC’s Best Practice Team Coordinator, Amelia Foster. “We have relied heavily on his soil conservation expertise and he has contributed valuable advice to the industry’s Best Management Practice Guidelines.”
Craig said, “Darryl has been really great to work with. He has taught me a lot about soil conservation and water flows.
“The industry needs people like Darryl in it. Once he’s gone, there’s going to be a big hole if he’s not replaced!”
While Darryl leaves a ‘hole’ in ABGC’s practical advisory network, other specialists are emerging who are taking the opportunity to support farmers and apply their knowledge and skills.
“There are still some local Extension Officers with expertise in soil conservation, some of whom have been mentored by Darryl,” Amelia said.
“We look forward to working with them to effectively roll out upcoming projects on farms in the Wet Tropics.”
Michelle McKinlay, ABGC’s Industry Strategy Manager, said they’d been lucky to have Darryl to add value to the team with his significant knowledge and experience.
“I wish him all the very best in his well-earned retirement and hope he thoroughly enjoys spending lots of time with his family in the cooler climate of the southern part of the state,” she said.
Darryl provided technical input into the Soil Conservation Measures – Design Manual for Queensland, which will continue to be a valuable resource to the banana industry.