Johnstone catchment farmers showcase best land practices

Published: 12/05/2014

Four farmers from the North and South Johnstone River catchments opened their gates to members of the local agricultural community to share their experiences and best farming practices.

The farm tour showcased working examples of farm management systems and tools to conserve soil and manage the flow of water across a farm.

Phil Laycock from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said it showed forward-thinking landholders were improving their farm’s long-term efficiency and viability and achieving positive environmental outcomes.

“Managing water flows on farms can improve farm productivity and profitability by reducing the loss of good quality soils containing important organic matter, nutrients and microorganisms,” he said.

“Reducing farm run-off also helps to ensure the quality of water flowing through the catchment out to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.”

Eleven farmers and catchment care representatives and seven industry extension and research personnel shared their experience during the free tour that visited:

  • LMB Farming banana farm – East Palmerston
  • Riera cane farm – South Johnstone
  • LMB Farming banana farm – Wangan
  • Darveniza banana farm – South Johnstone.

Banana farmer Marc Darveniza — part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Reef Guardian program — is a leader in promoting sustainable farm practices that are good for business and the environment.

“We did a lot of things that weren’t standard practice at the time. But lots of the ideas worked — that was a bit of a surprise to us and probably to other farmers in the district,” Mr Darveniza said.

“These days it’s called ‘ecological farming’ — it’s all about managing soil health, like using minimal pesticides. We found with chemicals you might solve one problem but you create another.”

Bob Stewart from the Johnstone River Catchment Management Association said the association supported good farm practises for integrated catchment management in the Johnstone area.

“We were very happy to participate, organise and provide technical input for this farmer field day,” he said.

Deb Telford from CANEGROWERS believed the farm tour was a great opportunity to show the changes cane farmers are making to improve water quality and share ideas with others outside the industry.

The tour included marine managers from Mexico, visiting Queensland for two weeks through an Australian Award Fellowship, interested in how local groups achieve positive environmental outcomes and maintain farm profitability.

They aim to learn about reef stewardship and responsible land and reef practices from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Reef Guardian participants and high standard tourism operators so they can establish similar initiatives in the catchments surrounding their reef systems the Mexico-Caribbean area.

The tour was a collaboration between local farmers, organisations and agencies who share a common goal to improve catchment health and resilience. The partners included: Local farmers Craig Buchanan, Lorens Riera, Gavin Eihlers and Marc Darveniza: Johnstone River Catchment Management Association Inc; Terrain NRM; Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority; Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (Queensland Wetlands Program); CANEGROWERS; Australian Banana Growers’ Council Inc; Landcare.

Name: GBRMPA media
Contact: (07) 4750 0846