A health report on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has given the banana industry a ‘c’ – one of the highest ratings for best practice results in nutrient and soil management.
The 2015 Reef Report Card, put together by the federal and Queensland state government, measured improvements in water quality in the Great Barrier Reef catchment area, with banana growers increasing their land under protection using best practice management (BMP) by 3 per cent in the year to June 2015.
“The ABGC, in conjunction with the [Queensland] Department of Agriculture & Fisheries, developed the BMP Environmental Guidelines for the banana industry in 2013,” said Michelle McKinlay, Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) industry strategy manager. “Since its introduction, more than 50 per cent of all land under banana production had adopted BMP, which we see as a significant achievement, because it shows the industry’s commitment to improving water quality.”
McKinlay said in the past 20 years, banana growers had reduced nitrogen use by 40 per cent, in turn reducing the run off of nitrogen from banana farm soil.
“The ABGC will continue to encourage growers to match the nutrient application rates to the needs of the crop,” she said. “Our recently released BetterBunch app will assist growers to keep a better record of the amounts of nutrients being applied.”
Banana growers will also have the opportunity to apply for grants from 1 November to 16 December 2016 that will assist in improve farm practices to management sediment and nutrient run off from farms.
“The banana industry has engaged technical industry experts and industry champions to help prioritise the management practices that will make a difference to the quality of water leaving farms and entering the reef,” Ms McKinlay said. “The industry is keen to improve the way it farms to stay profitable and make a difference to the environment.”