The winners of the 2017 Reef Alliance Awards were announced in Townsville overnight, shining a light on the sector’s leaders in on-farm practices and extension to reduce and manage agricultural impacts on the iconic Great Barrier Reef.
Innovative nitrogen reduction practices, fitting porous check dams within gullies to capture sediment run-off and organic matter, and innovative extension approaches were just some of the project success stories honoured last night at the Reef Alliance Awards held in Townsville.
The Reef Alliance awards recognise the work of farmers to reduce their off-farm impact on the Reef, and are an initiative of the Reef Alliance partnership which includes the Queensland Farmers’ Federation, peak agricultural industry bodies, regional natural resource management groups and the conservation sector.
The 2017 awards include two exciting and welcome firsts, an award category that recognizes the important contribution made by extension officers in supporting practice change at a grass roots level, and a partnership with The Prince’s Trust offering the Prince of Wales Environmental Leadership – Reef Sustainability Award.
Reef Alliance Chair Joanne Grainger said the Awards were an opportunity to highlight the role farmers play in land stewardship, and another way to showcase the collaborative nature of the Australian Government Reef Programs.
“The 2017 winners have done their communities, regions and industries proud. The Reef Alliance was inundated with nominations, and these farmers and extension officers are truly at the top of their field,” Ms. Grainger said.
“The Australian Government Reef Programs such as Reef Trusts are successful because they focus on improving both farming and the environment. There have been many worthwhile projects undertaken, and these awards allow us to showcase some of the great achievements.
The Reef Alliance Awards for the first time too will be recognized too the important contribution made extension officers in supporting practice change at a grass roots level.’
This year’s winners are:
- Reef Nutrient Management Award category
Christopher Russo, Farnsfield, for his innovative modification of a high clearance tractor and nitrogen injection bar to apply liquid nitrogen subsurface, allowing later nitrogen application.
- Reef Sediment Management Award category
Dan Bishop, Hill End Farms Pty Ltd, Rockhampton, for on-farm efforts to address gully erosion reducing sediment loss by 123 tonnes per year and increasing on-farm productivity.
- Reef Conservation Award category
Gary & Angela Spotswood, Inkerman, for restoring the ecological function of Mt Alma’s 100 ha lagoon providing important habitat for wildlife including migratory wader birds and fish species such as Barramundi.
- Reef Extension Officer’s Award category
Debra Telford, Mourilyan, for her instrumental role in delivering grants and extension support to growers to reduce their impact on water quality over 20 years in the sugar industry in Far North Queensland.
- Prince of Wales Environmental Leadership – Reef Sustainability Award
Frank & Dianne Sciacca, Innisfail, for co-founding the innovative Ecoganic™ farming system, which enables fungicide reduction of 60-100%. Their ‘Wax Tip Bananas’ are available in nearly all Australian states and territories.
“The broad range of excellent projects nominated for these awards is testament to the widespread practice change and innovation taking place in Reef catchment areas,” Ms Grainger said.
“Farmers and their communities are voluntarily working to reduce the runoff of nutrients, chemicals and sediment from their land so that we can protect the Reef for future generations.”
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.
The awards were sponsored by the ‘Reef Trust: Reef Alliance – Growing a Great Barrier Reef’ project, which is funded by the Australian Government Reef Trust.