LDC Information sessions

The Landholders Driving Change (LDC) team, supported by officers from the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (DNRME), hosted an information session at Turrawulla Station, Exmoor Road on Thursday, 3 December.

LDC team members Cherry Emerick and Sheridan Callcott provided information about the reef regulations and Kari Paton from DNRME, Emerald and Kerri Barton from DNRME, Mackay fielded questions about the Vegetation Management Act.

More sessions will be held in February and March next year. People who want to attend should contact Cherry (cherry.emerick@nqdrytropics.com.au, 0456 015 772) or Sheridan (sheridan.callcott@nqdrytropics.com.au, 0439 421 994) to register their interest.

Graziers, government representatives and NQ Dry Tropics met at Turrawulla Station to discuss the detail of the reef regulations that came into force on December 1 and vegetation management laws. Pictured are (from left): Mick Comerford from Exmoor Station, Kari Paton from DNRME in Emerald,  Keri Barden from DNRME in Mackay and Buster O’Loughlin from Exevale Station.

Members of the Exmoor Road Cluster Group meet with DNRME and NQ Dry Tropics to discuss the reef regulations that came into effect on December 1 and vegetqation management laws. Pictured are (from left): Darryl and Marg McEvoy from Eungella Station, Brian Berrigan and Noel Comerford from Turrawulla Station and Mick Comerford from Exmoor Station.

Government representatives at the Exmoor Road Cluster Group meeting at Turrawulla Station Kari Paton, DNRME in Emerald (left) and Kerri Barden, DNRME in Mackay with Margaret McEvoy from Eungella Station (right).

Burdekin graziers first with new reef protection regulations

“Champ” takes his job as overseer at Turrawalla Station in his stride.

Graziers in the Burdekin will be the first required to meet the Queensland Government’s new minimum practice agricultural standards for beef cattle grazing which started on 1 December, 2020.

Under the Reef protection regulations, graziers need to take action to improve land condition and ground cover on areas of grazing land with less than 50 per cent ground cover (measured on 30 September each year).

There are four standard conditions graziers must meet (Click to see pull out box), but it’s up to them what action is taken.

The standard conditions do not mandate stocking rates or a land management plan. It’s also recognised that it may be impractical and cost prohibitive to fully rehabilitate some areas of very degraded land but steps must be taken to prevent these areas from further expanding or getting worse.

The minimum practice agricultural standards for grazing aim to keep soil and nutrients on the property rather than ending up in local waterways.

Burdekin graziers can access a range of programs and support tools including the Grazing Resilience and Sustainable Solutions (GRASS) program which provides one-on-one support to develop and implement a tailor-made action plan for land management.

Senior Grazing Field Officer Josh Nicholls manages the GRASS program for NQ Dry Tropics and can be contacted by email (josh.nicholls@nqdrytropics.com.au) or phone (0428 790 764)

The action plan provides the latest tools and information to help identify, improve and maintain areas of poor (C), or degraded (D) land condition with a specific focus on improving ground cover and reducing soil loss.

Landholders may also be eligible to apply for incentive funding for works identified in their plan such as small-to-medium scale gully remediation, new watering points and fencing.

The program is funded through the Queensland Government’s Reef Water Quality Program and, in the Burdekin catchment, is delivered by NQ Dry Tropics.

One of the benefits of being involved in recognised accreditation programs and acknowledged practice change project, such as GRASS, is that participants have the option to be considered a lower priority for compliance inspections under the reef protection regulations.

Another program available to eligible graziers is the Queensland Government Farming in Reef Catchments Rebate Scheme through which landholders can get a rebate of up to $1000 to help offset the costs of obtaining professional and agronomic advice about managing nutrient and sediment run-off. Advice must be obtained from an Accredited Agricultural Adviser registered by the Queensland Rural Industry Development Authority.

For more information about the regulations and to order a grazing information pack, visit www.qld.gov.au/ReefRegulations and click on the grazing section or phone 13 QGOV (13 74 68).

Darryl McEvoy Eungella Station (left) and Buster O’Loughlin Exevale Station found something to laugh about during the meeting to dicuss the detail of the newly-introduced reef regulations.
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KEQ #1

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.

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*GLMWW = Grazing Land Management Wire and Water

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*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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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.

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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.
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