Help available to tackle degraded land

THE Grazing Resilience and Sustainable Solutions (GRASS) program aims to support graziers to improve poor and degraded land by delivering one-on-one support by developing tailored land management plans and identifying actions that will lead to better conditions.

By participating in the GRASS program, graziers can access a range of resources and identify actions that lead to improved condition and productivity for poor or degraded land on their properties. 

Participating in the program will also help graziers identify measures that will prevent severely degraded areas from further degrading.

The program has a range of financial incentives to assist landholders to undertake infrastructure improvements such as:

  • fencing;
  • water troughs; and
  • erosion works.

The program also supports landholders to better understand the:

  • requirements of the reef protection regulations; and
  • the associated minimum standards for grazing in catchments that flow into the Great Barrier Reef.

The program is funded through the Queensland Government Reef Water Quality Program and is delivered by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), Burnett Mary Regional Group, Fitzroy Basin Association and NQ Dry Tropics. 

Extension officers from these groups provide support and information to graziers in each region.

Contact Cherry Emerick (ph: 0456 015 772) for information about the LDC-sponsored LCAT workshop to be conducted at the Mt Pleasant Learning Hub on 26 February.

Are you a former Grazing BMP accredited producer?

This information is relevant to you.

As a Grazing BMP accredited producer NQ Dry Tropics is offering you priority access to the Queensland Government’s new Grazing Resilience and Sustainable Solutions (GRASS) program.

The Queensland Government will recognise graziers who achieved accreditation under the former Grazing BMP. 

Producers that had a current Grazing BMP accreditation in June 2019 will be eligible to be considered as a low compliance risk for five years from 1 December 2019 if they wish to register under that recognition. 

You can register for this recognition without participating in the GRASS program by contacting your local DAF or NQ Dry Tropics Grazing officer.

Although participation in the GRASS program is voluntary, and accredited graziers are being recognised as a low compliance risk, this does not absolve you from your regulatory obligations.

We encourage you to take advantage of this priority access opportunity, available exclusively to accredited producers until 28 February 2019.  

Participating landholders will be considered a low priority for compliance visits for the duration of their involvement in this program.  

Or not…

From the end of February, the program will be accessible to all graziers in the Burdekin, Fitzroy and Burnett-Mary regions who have some land in a poor or degraded condition.

The program provides graziers one-on-one extension support and tailored land management plans to address land in poor or degraded condition (defined as areas of groundcover under 50 per cent).

It includes some financial incentives, up to $15,000 per property, to help producers implement actions identified through the land management plan.

It also supports graziers to understand the requirements of the new reef protection regulations and the associated minimum standards for grazing in catchments that flow into the Great Barrier Reef.  

For more information contact Mick Shannon on 0456 554 710 or Sam Skeat on 0439 661 961.

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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.

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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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