Horticultural practice change
STORY MICHAEL GODDARD | MAPS TONY CROWLEY
Lakeland horticulture producers are improving water quality that exits their farms by understanding the variation in soil composition, and continuing to improve farm management practices.
On 17 May this year, Cape York NRM held its agriculture meeting with Lakeland producers. Land managers from six properties attended the event to listen to a presentation about the results of recent soil mapping on their properties, plus a presentation on catchment modelling.
Tony Crowley of Farmacist spoke about the EM mapping he had undertaken on all of the major agricultural properties in the Lakeland area. EM mapping allows producers to identify the variation in soil composition and to make management decisions such as timing and placement of fertilisers, and ameliorants which enhance soil condition, as well as determine locations for soil sampling. The presentation provided producers with the information they need to get the best results from soil mapping on their individual properties. The presentation also included information about both the benefits and the problems associated with precision agriculture.
Gillian McKoskey, from the Department of Natural Resources, Mining and Energy, told the group about the difficult task of monitoring and modelling water entering the Great Barrier Reef from farms and grazing properties, and how the model has been fine-tuned over the years to become far more accurate.
The modelling, as well as data collected from producers by Cape York NRM staff, helps to inform the Government on how to rate the different reef catchments for the annual Reef Report Card. Due to the lack of data in the past, it has been difficult for Cape York producers to gain a good grade for water quality. Data supplied by horticulture producers over the last two years should see these grades improve.
Producers were also encouraged to undertake the second round of management practice change evaluations using the Cape York Agriculture ABCD framework. Recent visits by Cape York NRM staff have allowed farmers to sit down and go through the process face to face and rate themselves using the framework. The second round of questionnaires allows producers to rate themselves against their last assessment and see how their management practices have improved over time.
The Agriculture Roundtable and the EM Mapping project were supported by Cape York NRM, in partnership with Farmacist, with funding through Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.
The presentation by Gillian McKoskey was supported by the Queensland Government Department of Natural Resources, Mining and Energy through the Queensland Regional Natural Resource Management Investment Program.