The Queensland government has announced a three-year project to assess the economic and environmental impacts of Banana Best Management Practice (BMP) guidelines.
The project will help banana growers identify which practices improve profitability, reduce biosecurity risks and improve water quality in the Great Barrier Reef.
“It is crucial that we fill this knowledge gap and help farmers identify which practices they may want to implement first and those that will have the greatest impact on water quality and biosecurity benefits,” Queensland minister for environment, Steven Miles, said in a statement released 7 April.
Industry body the Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) worked alongside the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to develop the BMP guidelines, which were released in June 2013 and include information on fertiliser and pesticide use, integrated pest and disease management, biodiversity and waste.
“Understanding how these practices impact on farm profit is critical to maintaining profitability in the future,” said Leanne Donaldson, minister for agriculture and fisheries. “Obviously the major challenge for Wet Tropics banana farmers is the implementation of on-farm biosecurity measures in the control of Panama disease, so this project will provide valuable information through the economic assessments of various key practices.
“Factors such as the reduced movement of soil and water on, off and within farms will have major benefits for industry-wide Panama disease initiatives as well as for water quality in the Great Barrier Reef catchment.”
ABGC CEO Jim Pekins has welcomed the announcement of the project, and said once the project was complete it would offer banana growers better information on which to base farm management decisions.
The project will be funded by Queensland’s Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.