MIP leaders visit LDC trials in the BBB

 

MAJOR Integrated Projects (MIPs) Steering Committee chair Bob Speirs and grazier representative Roger Landsberg toured the BBB for two days in June, visiting properties that are trialling cost-effective and innovative approaches to improve landscape function, soil health and water quality.

Many of these activities are from the LDC’s BBB Grazier Support program that aims to provide graziers with education, training, technical support and incentives to help them adopt improved land management practices.

Bob and Roger also visited small scale and large scale gully remediation sites across the catchment.

The Landscape Remediation Activity Area aims to develop effective and economical solutions for gully remediation that can be rolled out across the BBB catchment – and across other reef catchments.

They also attended a dinner in Collinsville where the first analysis results of samples taken during and after the New Year rain were delivered to members of the LDC Water Quality Monitoring Group.  

Pictured inspecting one of the trial sites at Graham Gordon’s Two Mile Station are (from left): CEO NQ Dry Tropics Scott Crawford, Mr Gordon, Steering Committee member Roger Landsberg and MIPs Steering Committee chair Bob Speirs.

LDC one of two GBR Water Science Taskforce projects

 

LANDHOLDERS Driving Change is one of two Major Integrated projects (MIPs) recommended by the Great Barrier Reef Water Science Taskforce.

The other MIP aims to reduce nutrient and pesticide runoff from cane and banana farms in the Wet Tropics region.  

The Queensland Government has committed a total of $33 million to fund the MIPs, which aim to concentrate efforts at a catchment scale, and evaluate how effective they are.

A Steering Committe performs a progress oversight and endorsement role, providing advice to the Department of Envrionment and Science and the MIP project managers on matters that impact program implementation, success, and delivery of products and outputs.

As collaborative approaches are encouraged, the Steering Committee also guides the implementation of a program of works that explores opportunities to build on and value add to activities already being, or scheduled to be delivered, in the project areas.  

This includes advising on opportunities for collaborating or coordinating with other programs, and avoidance of duplication of works or investment.

Mt Wickham is the first demonstration site that has been established to showcase different methods of treating large-scale features, according to erosion and soil type. Other sites will be established and the LDC team will investigate a framework to record and compare cost-effectiveness of the various trial treatments.

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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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