Reef Guardian Farmers are working together in the Herbert River region
Local cane farmer Jeff Cantamessa is amongst the first farmers in the Herbert region to be part of the pilot for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's Reef Guardian stewardship recognition program.
The program aims to promote farmers' good land practices that in turn help improve the health of the Reef.
Jeff volunteered to be part of the pilot program for the cane sector because he believes in a productive and sustainable sugar industry.
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Reef Guardian Program Director Karen Vohland said the agency was delighted to work with cane farmers along the Great Barrier Reef to help protect the Reef for the future.
"We are developing this voluntary program with industry for industry," she said.
"As part of this we'll showcase the positive environmental work being undertaken by farmers.
"This includes farming practices that improve water quality, soil health, energy efficiency and ensure nutrients don't wash into waterways.
"By fostering a sense of ownership amongst landholders whose activities can directly contribute to a healthy marine environment, we hope to inspire other landholders to adopt similar practices."
Peter Sheedy, District Manager for Canegrowers Herbert River Region, agrees that Reef Guardians is a worthwhile program, aimed to recognise reef friendly land management practices, where recognition is often lacking.
"This is good for our industry," he said.
"There is a lot of agronomic expertise out there and now there is great potential for growers to gain recognition of their skill and knowledge through the Reef Guardian program."
Jeff Cantamessa's cane growing business is an example of farming practices that are achieving win-win outcomes for their business and the health of the Great Barrier Reef.
"This includes experimenting with variable rate nutrient application technology with the aim of using precisely the right amount of fertiliser to grow a productive crop without being wasteful," he said.
Jeff's interest in best-practice technology means there are environmental benefits achieved and the community benefits as well.
"Because I employ GPS tracking in the planting and harvesting operations, I spend less time working the ground and more time is available for family and industry activities, such as hosting farm field days."
Jeff is one of a number of cane growers along the Great Barrier Reef coastline who are offering their time and insight into continual improvement farming practices.
This will help the GBRMPA build a program that achieves positive environmental outcomes as well as suit growers' needs and aspirations.
Reef Guardian Farmers pilot program is part of a broader Reef Guardian Program, which also involves a Reef Guardian Fishers program within the commercial fishing sector.
The Reef Guardian Program involves 13 Councils and over 230 schools that are taking part in on-ground environmental projects that benefit the Reef.
Name: GBRMPA Media
Contact: (07) 4750 0846
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