The ACFA board meeting AGM and Annual conference where held in Hervey bay on 23 and 24 March.
The speakers at the conference included David Brown, CEO of Burnett Mary Region Group; Denis Heron, Water Reuse Manager for Wide Bay Water and Dr Lukas Van Zwieten, Senior Research Scientist Climate in Primary Industries NSW DPI.
Following the conference, at tour through the district included visiting the Marybrough tissue culture cane seedling distribution system, the tissue culture seeding propagation plot at Island Plantation and then a visit to the Wide Bay timber plantation which uses treated water from the Wide Bay sewage plant. The conferences tour was most informative.
The ACFA thanks sponsors Synergy Fertilisers and the Burnett Mary Regional Group.
Sugar, Reef Rescue and Natural Resource Management in the Burnett Mary Region
David Brown, Chief Executive Officer Burnett Mary Regional Group
The Burnett Mary Regional Group for Natural Resource Management Inc (BMRG) is the peak coordinating body for natural resource management in the Burnett Mary region.
BMRG is tasked with oversight of such natural resource and environmental management issues as water quality, salinity, and sustainability – sustainable development of the Burnett Mary region’s land, vegetation, weeds and pest management, coastal and marine management and water resources.
BMRG was formed under the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality and the Natural Heritage Trust programs.
The Burnett Mary Region covers approximately 56,000 square kilometres of land and includes another 40,000 square kilometres of marine area.
BMRG has delivered $21M under NHT2 funding & will deliver $6M in 2009-2010. Under the ‘Reef Rescue’ program, BMRG funded an initial $3.06 & will fund $2M in 2009-2010.
Innovation in Effluent Re-use
Denis Heron, Water Reuse Manager, Wide Bay Water Corporation
Wide Bay Water Corporation recycles more than 90 percent of Hervey Bay’s treated wastewater helping to preserve the pristine waters of the Great Sandy Strait.
The Corporation has six wastewater treatments plants and seven wastewater reuse reservoirs that hold approximately 1,800ML of treated wastewater. This water is recycled on to the Corporation’s hardwood tree plantations which cover around 285 hectares. A further 75 hectares will be planted by June 2010. The water is also sold for use on cane farms, golf courses, turf farms, council parks and landscaping.
The recycling program was created because of a decision in the early 1990s to minimise the discharge of treated wastewater because of its high phosphorous and nitrogen content which can cause unwanted plant growth in marine environments. Conversely these same nutrients are beneficial to land-based agriculture.
The Corporation’s seventh wastewater treatment plant is a new state-of-the-art facility at Nikenbah. The $42million plant (pictured) will be able to treat water from the equivalent of 10,000 houses providing additional capacity to keep pace with Hervey Bay’s high population growth. The plant will use an innovative membrane bio-reactor (MBR) process which is a biological treatment that uses membrane filtration at the end of the process.
|Irrigation End-users||Approximate Area (ha)|
|Golf Course/Airport Dual Pipe System||75|
|Cane Farms – Harvey Bay||400|
|Cane Farms – Maryborough||600|
|Existing Tree Plantations||220|
|Trees to be planted next 3 -5 years||260|
|Cassava Tree Plantation Scheme 5-10 years||668|
Opportunities for biochar in the Australian sugarcane industry
Lukas Van Zwieten, Principal Research Scientist
Steve Kimber, Environmental Chemist
Robert Quirk, Farmer, scientist
Presenting on biochar, Dr Lukas Van Zwieten said that farmers want to increase soil carbon because of the productivity benefits, however there are barriers to carbon markets. These are the many variables involved such as management practices, soil types and climate.
There are issues with accountability, as accurate measurement is expensive and time consuming and there must be a guarantee that the carbon will stay put.
Dr Van Zwieten said that biochar provides an accountable, and therefore auditable, pathway of storing carbon in soil.
He said that 75% of Australian soil contains less than 1% Carbon.
A pyrolysis reactor could generate more than 1.3 MW of syngas energy per dry tonne of either trash or bagasse. Alternatively it could generate 0.5 MWH of electricity.
Biochar has a total carbon content of 41% from trash and 38% from bagasse. Research has shown biochar to raise N & P in soil from 19.4 to 29.6 mg/kg and 6.0 to 8.7 mg/kg respectively.
Dr Van Zwieten said that utilising some cane trash to produce biochar could result in a reduction of more than 400 thousand tonnes of CO2 equivalents/year per million tonnes of trash.
The total potential economic value of this could be $127M per year from existing waste, raising revenue from power, biochar and C sequestration.
Dr. Vladimir Matichenkov Ph.D. D.Sc. of Synergy fertilisers gave a presentation on ‘Natural Silica for Sugarcane in Queensland’.