Pregnancy-testing a cow at Mt Crompton with a ReproScan.

NQ Dry Tropics looks for incentives to break down barriers.

Incentives can help graziers trial new technology like this weed wiper at Eungella.

For example …

The types of management practices landholders tried with the support of Exploring New Incentives included:

  • Pregnancy testing technology.
  • Water telemetry.
  • Weed management infrastructure (weed wiper, weed mister).
  • Fire management planning.
  • Flora and fauna surveys.

Incentives to knock down barriers

A key LDC component has been to look at ways to address barriers to the adoption of improved grazing land management practices and landscape remediation approaches.

The Exploring New Incentives activity area is to tackle that issue.

A New Incentives grants framework was developed to help grazing enterprises build resilience into their business while improving water quality outcomes, production, and the knowledge and skills of people working in the enterprise.

The grants were aimed at encouraging graziers with innovative ideas they would like to trial to tackle property issues such as weeds, animal health and welfare, herd productivity and erosion features.

Providing their proposal met strict criteria, the LDC team linked graziers to the right expertise and resources to help them implement the project.

It’s important to measure the impact of this grants framework to help NQ Dry Tropics improve its extension activities with landholders.  

CSIRO and James Cook University were engaged to review the activity area, and investigate motivations and barriers to improved land management practices on grazing property. Landholders who were recipients to Exploring New Incentives grants were interviewed in February this year.

Findings from the study will also help policy makers in their future decisions and activities related to improved land management practices for water quality outcomes.  

The review, funded by the Department of Environment and Science, was conducted collaboratively by CSIRO and James Cook University and here is a summary of the key findings.

Fauna survey: planigale, lizard, lady bugs.


Reef regulations - grazing, standard conditions

  1. For land in good or fair condition (more than 50 per cent ground cover at 30 September), continue using measures to maintain land condition.
  2. For land in poor condition (less than 50 per cent ground cover at 30 September), steps must be taken to improve land condition.
  3. For land in degraded condition (less than 20 per cent ground cover at 30 September), steps must be taken to improve land condition OR prevent areas from further degrading or expanding.
  4. Keep records of measures taken and also of agricultural chemicals, fertiliser and mill mud or mill ash applied to land.
KEQ #8

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KEQ #4

The LDC project monitors four gully sites (represented in this table) with gold standard equipment and analysis, carried out by CSIRO.

Results have been compiled in a preliminary report from Bartley et al (2020), with the final report expected to be released by the end of 2020. The preliminary report shows all four sites have indicators of improvements, notably the Strathbogie and Mt Wickham sites.

KEQ #3

*The Exploring New Incentives activity area has provided an opportunity for graziers to adopt improved land management practices through a range of activities. For some of these properties, it was the first time they signed contracts for on-ground works.

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Figure 1. Total fine sediment reduction by project type and erosion source. Inset shows the proportion of the total project area for each project type.

These estimates have been calculated using two methods: 

1) The pollutant reduction component of the Alluvium/Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF) investment tool for hillslope and streambank erosion management projects; 

2) The Reef Trust Gully Toolbox method for gully erosion management projects. The LDC Water Quality Report 2020 (Waterhouse et al., 2020) highlights that a number of assumptions underlay these calculations, therefore these figures should be treated as the best available estimate of sediment reductions to date.

Preventing sediment from reaching the Great Barrier Reef

Each wet season sediment is washed into local waterways and out to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). 

Most sediment is very fine, and can stay suspended for a long time and can travel great distances. Valuable topsoil is lost from production, and increased concentrations on the reef can be harmful to seagrasses and corals. 

Landholders in the BBB have completed 69 on-ground water quality practice changes, and it is estimated that these have contributed a fine sediment reduction of 6,154 tonnes per year from reaching the GBR. 

Of this, approximately half of the sediment savings are attributable to grazing land management changes on hillslopes and streambanks, and the other half as a result of gully remediation treatments across a broad range of scales, as shown in the graphs above. 

The table below also highlights the relatively small area of intervention in the gully management projects compared to the large sediment savings that these can achieve - 60 per cent of the sediment savings over only 4 per cent of the project area.

Table 1. Estimated sediment reductions (tonnes) from projects completed in the LDC Project to date.

KEQ #2

*GLMWW = Grazing Land Management Wire and Water

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