The winners of the 2018 Reef Champion Awards have been announced, shining a light on leaders in on-farm practices and extension who are working to reduce and manage agriculture’s impact on the Great Barrier Reef.
Innovative nitrogen reduction practices, dedicated approaches to extension, revegetation of farms and conservation of wetlands and riparian areas were just some of the success stories honoured at the Awards Dinner on National Agriculture Day in Yeppoon.
The Awards, run by the Reef Alliance with support from the Australian and Queensland governments, recognise the outstanding achievements of individuals and organisations working to improve the quality of water entering the iconic Great Barrier Reef.
Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) CEO Travis Tobin congratulated the winners and other finalists and said it was important to acknowledge the continued commitment and efforts of farmers and others working with the agricultural sector to safeguard the future of the Reef.
“The outstanding achievements of farmers, extension officers and community members nominated for these awards is testament to the widespread practice change and innovation taking place in Reef catchment areas,” Mr Tobin said.
“The Awards were also an opportunity to showcase the collaborative nature of the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Queensland Government’s Reef Water Quality Program.”
“These government programs have successfully supported and delivered mutually beneficial outcomes for farmers and the environment. There have been many worthwhile projects undertaken, and these awards allow us to showcase some of the great efforts and achievements.”
The 2018 Reef Champion Award winners are:
Prince of Wales Environmental Leadership – Reef Sustainability Award
- Winner: Gerrard Deguara, North Eton, for his innovative modification of farm and harvesting equipment to a two metre controlled traffic farming system maximising the growing area of his paddocks, improving yields and soil health, reducing fossil fuel use and the volumes of chemical and nutrient run-off in water leaving the farm.
- Runner up: Frank Mugica, Ayr, for his progressive use of banded mill mud and green cane trash blanketing to reduce soil erosion and nitrogen use by 20kg per hectare, while also planting 100 native trees to encourage wildlife on his property.
Reef Nutrient Champion Award
- David DeFranciscis, Ayr, for co-designing a project to test an industry nutrient management standard on grower properties to reduce high nitrogen applications. The project has now validated the standard in the Burdekin and has reduced the amount of nitrogen applied on 23 farms by 500 tonnes.
Reef Sediment Champion Award
- Bob Harris, Bowen, for on-farm efforts to fence riparian areas and install watering points reducing sediment loss. This infrastructure has allowed better management of grazing, resulting in improved water quality outcomes and farm productivity.
Reef Pesticide Champion Award
- Phillip Deguara, Eton, for his instrumental role in implementing a grower-led water quality management project resulting in significantly reduced numbers of pesticide applications on his and other farms.
Reef Conservation Champion Award
- Mt Pleasant Station management, Bowen, for restoring the ecological function of the property with a time-controlled grazing system, implementing a short graze period, adequate rest and higher density of animals resulting in improved soil health, pasture condition and water quality.
Reef Extension Officer Champion Award
- Allan Blair, South Johnston, for his innovative modification of a sprayer that can apply two different types of herbicide at the same time. The dual herbicide sprayer applies standard herbicide mixes to the row and non-residual herbicides to the inter row reducing the potential for contaminated run off.
- John Day, Wondai, for being instrumental in promoting landholders’ uptake of best practice soil conservation practices and directly overseeing construction works for the remediation of over 54 sites throughout the Burnett Mary region.
Reef Community Champion Award
- Mulgrave Landcare and Catchment Group, Gordonvale, for holding 31 community planting events and, with the assistance of hundreds of volunteers and 21 landholders, planting 33,000 trees over 17 hectares.
Reef Youth Champion Award
- Nicole Nash, Freshwater, for launching The Last Straw on the Great Barrier Reef campaign which has seen over 320 venues across the Reef catchments, which were using an estimated 4.1 million straws per year, go plastic straw free.
- Gavin Rodman, Gordonvale, for his integral part in the design and delivery of the Cane to Creek project and rollout of Best Management Practice training in the Wet Tropics as the lead deliverer of SIX EASY STEPS training for the cane industry.
Reef Youth Champion Award – Under 15
- Sid Crawshaw, Tannum Sands, for encouraging local businesses, his fellow school students and family members to say ‘no’ to straws and stopping an estimated 8,000 single-use plastic straws from entering landfill or the Great Barrier Reef.
To learn more about the winners and runners up, visit: www.qff.org.au/projects/reef-alliance/2018-reef-champion-awards/.
The Reef Champion Awards are supported by the ‘Reef Trust: Reef Alliance – Growing a Great Barrier Reef’ project, which is funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust, and the Queensland Government’s Reef Water Quality Program.
Gerrard Deguara, Prince of Wales Environmental Leadership – Reef Sustainability Award winner
David DeFranciscis, Reef Nutrient Champion Award winner
Bob Harris, Reef Sediment Champion Award winner
Phillip Deguara, Reef Pesticide Champion Award winner
Mt Pleasant Station management, Reef Conservation Champion Award winners
Allan Blair and John Day, Reef Extension Officer Champion Award joint-winners
Mulgrave Landcare and Catchment Group Chair Tony Rossi, Reef Community Champion Award winner
Nicole Nash, Reef Youth Champion Award joint-winner
Gavin Rodman, Reef Youth Champion Award joint-winner
Sid Crawshaw, Reef Youth Champion Award – Under 15 winner