WITH the asssistance of five new management projects North Queensland cane growers will be able to increase their productivity and reduce pollutants reaching the Great Barrier Reef.
Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection Andrew Powell said the projects aimed to improve sustainability, water quality management and reef health in the Wet Tropics, Burdekin Dry Tropics and Mackay-Whitsunday catchments.
"The Queensland Government is determined to support industry-driven initiatives to encourage cane farmers to adopt best management practices," Mr Powell said.
"More than $300,000 from the $10.1 million set aside by the Queensland Government for reef protection research and development has been allocated to fund these management projects.
"We're backing projects that will improve the management of pollutants generated from cane farms, with priority given to those areas where pollutants pose the greatest risk to the reef.
"The result of these projects will further encourage industry and growers to share their knowledge locally and move towards best practice management.
"Thirteenproposals totalling almost a million dollars were received from 10 cane-growing and allied organisations, of which the five highest-ranking projects were funded.
"The five selected projects demonstrate clear links between management actions taken by producers and water quality, helping growers see where changes are needed and to document improvements."
The total cost of the selected projects is $330,612, with funding allocated in the Wet Tropics (two projects - $70,000), the Burdekin Dry Tropics (two projects - $160,612) and Mackay-Whitsundays (one project - $100,000).
The projects are to be completed by February 2014.
"Cane farms have to make a profit to stay in business. But government and the industry already know that knowledge is key to maintaining a balance between sustainable production and reef protection," Mr Powell said.
"The projects' objectives are consistent with the government's commitments to make research and development a priority to improve productivity, support the sector's ability to address emerging challenges, and to capitalise on emerging markets and opportunities.
"By working together we can provide the right tools and services to enable agricultural enterprises to succeed in emerging markets," Mr Powell said.