Three cane farmers at Lilliesmere Lagoon, Lower Burdekin, are about to start a project to protect wetlands through improved irrigation management, thanks to funding by the State Government.
Announced by Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Dr Anthony Lynham last week, the project is aimed at protecting wetlands, waterways and improving water quality on the Great Barrier Reef by minimising water run-off from properties.
Improving Coastal Wetland Ecosystems Through Improved Understanding of Best Irrigation Management Practice in the Lower Burdekin, also known as Landscape Resilience, is funded through the Queensland Government’s Regional Natural Resource Management Investment Program.
NQ Dry Tropics Project Officer Lisa Pulman said the Landscape Resilience project would see on-ground works carried out on three farms at Lilliesmere Lagoon over the next 12 months.
“This project will provide farmers with water monitoring data from their tail water drains to help them identify areas where they can implement irrigation practices to gain efficiencies in their farming systems, and improve their profitability and productivity,” Ms Pulman said.
“It will also demonstrate the important role that wetlands play for the environment and the community, and highlight the fantastic work that farmers are doing to protect wetlands while improving their practices.
“Lilliesmere Lagoon is a high profile freshwater wetland, valued by the community as an essential water source for people, as well as birds and fish.
“It also acts as a filter, absorbing nutrients and sediment to improve the quality of water that flows out of it.
“Unmanaged water causes weed outbreaks in the lagoon and downstream, which reduce bird and fish habitat, and are a haven for crop-damaging pests such as coots and pigs,’’ she said.
The Lower Burdekin not only supports the important sugar cane industry, it is also home to internationally and nationally important wetlands such as the Ramsar wetlands of Bowling Green Bay. Wetlands provide an important role in filtering wet season flows, removing excess nutrients, pollutants and sediments before they reach the Great Barrier Reef.
Research from the Burdekin Water Quality Improvement Plan has shown that the greatest reductions in nitrogen run off to the Reef can be made through improved irrigation management.