The Reef Alliance continues to seek nominations for the 2017 Reef Awards from land managers and extension officers in order to acknowledge their efforts in reducing off-farm impact on the iconic Great Barrier Reef.
The Reef Awards have been previously held in 2013 and 2015, and former winners are eager to encourage their fellow farmers to nominate.
Bundaberg cane grower Mark Pressler encouraged farmers to step up and put themselves or neighbours forward for doing their bit for the Reef.
“It is important that farmers are willing to tell their story as many are making enormous on-farm changes that come at a significant cost to their businesses however they understand the social responsibility they have,” Mr Pressler said.
“The need to demonstrate social responsibility when farming sustainably has never been higher, and the cane industry is working to meet community expectations and obligations.”
Mark and his brother Brian received an award for their use of tractor GPS navigation and variable rate technology on fertiliser bins as well as installing an improved irrigation system. As a result they have reduced the amount of driving required in their fields, limited sedimentary run-off and improved the management of water usage on their farm.
Fellow award winners include Collinsville graziers Shane and Amanda Watts. In 2015, the Watts received an award for their out-of-the-box approach to grazing management, resulting in 90 per cent of their paddocks being rested at one time.
Mr Watts said his family had been farming in the region for four generations with little change, but they were now focused on developing environmentally-friendly business models.
“We realised that what we were doing was not sustainable in the long term so we made changes that mimic how nature manages the environment,” said Mr. Watts.
The Chair of the Reef Alliance, Joanne Grainger, echoed the previous winners’ comments encouraging farmers and those in our Reef catchment communities to support the awards by nominating those who deserve to be recognised for being leaders in on farm practice change.
“The Reef Awards are an opportunity for farmers who have adopted farming practice changes to be acknowledged for their efforts. This will hopefully inform and inspire others,” said Ms Grainger.
“There will also be an opportunity for extension officers to be rewarded for their work with farmers in delivering positive outcomes on-farm and for the reef catchments.”
The Australian Government’s Reef Programs have been very successful in supporting and delivering mutually beneficial outcomes for farmers and the environment. The Alliance commends the government for investing in the collaborative and productive partnerships forged between industry and Natural Resource Management (NRM) groups.