In 2018, the International Year of the Reef, the Reef Champion Awards, an initiative of the Reef Alliance, recognise and celebrate the achievements and efforts of outstanding individuals and organisations who have taken action to improve the quality of water entering the Great Barrier Reef. Entrants in all categories (except the Prince of Wales, Community and Youth Awards) must have participated in an Australian Government or Queensland Government program in the last five years.
Deadline extended - Applications close 20 September 2018
The Prince of Wales Environmental Leadership – Reef Sustainability Award
Winners for each category will receive a trophy and the opportunity to attend a study tour at the Heron Island Research Station in early 2019. The winner or their representative will be required to attend the Awards Dinner in Yeppoon on Wednesday 21 November 2018, held in conjunction with the Influencing change for Reef water quality improvement Synthesis Workshop. Travel costs for each of the winners plus one accompanying partner each will be met.
The Awards are supported by Reef Trust: Reef Alliance – Growing a Great Barrier Reef project funded by the Australian Government Reef Trust with support from the Queensland Government’s Reef Water Quality Program.
Winner – Chris Russo, cane farmer from the Burnett Mary region
Chris Russo has implemented an innovative and novel approach to reduce nutrient applications. His concept is modification of a high clearance tractor and nitrogen injection bar, to apply liquid nitrogen subsurface to allow for a later application of nitrogen .
Chris is aiming for a reduction in the total applied Nitrogen and optimisation of NUE to maximize yield potential. This is currently being tested and validated in a cane innovation project funded through the Reef Alliance Project.
Runner Up – David Rolfe, banana grower from Mena Creek
David’s automated irrigation and fertigation systems have improved on-farm efficiencies and reduced fertiliser waste. He now applies 95% of all nitrogen through his fertigation system and has reduced his nitrogen input further by regular soil and leaf testing and altering application rates according to crop cycles.
The automation of his irrigation system and move to fertigation has been a game changer, leading to a significant improvement in general farm health. David can schedule irrigation to work at night, reducing evaporation, saving on electricity costs and giving him back some of his precious time.
Into the future David hopes to continue to improve his practices by using a banded belt spreader to apply organic fertilisers and reduce his synthetic fertiliser applications and improve soil health.
Reef Sediment Management Award
Winner – Dan Bishop, grazing landholder from the Fitzroy region
Dan has addressed gully erosion and sediment loss across his property with a focus on demonstrating on-ground actions and communicating them with his peers. Dan has implemented a number of actions on his farm which have not only reduced erosion problems but also assisted him in better managing his lands in order to increase productivity.
Based on his changes in practice, it is anticipated that Dan will reduce a total of 123 tonnes of sediment each year from entering the waters of the Great Barrier Reed Lagoon.
Runner Up – Louis Moore, grazing landholder from the Fitzroy region
Louis runs Dovecot, a 4700ha grazing property 20km south of Rockhampton, and is a first-generation landholder committed to improving his practices. Dovecot’s operation is an example of first class custodianship, not only of the land but of the Reef and broader environment. Louis’s activities include reducing stream bank erosion by installing watering points throughout his property and also managing stock through rotational grazing which improves cover and reduces erosion.
Louis said the process of engaging with Grazing BMP and Land Management Officers from Fitzroy Basin Association (FBA) has improved his business and increased his knowledge to network further with other successful proprietors and gather further insights.
Reef Conservation Award
Winner – Gary and Angela Spotswood, cane growers from the North Queensland Dry Tropics region
The Spotswood’s have restored the ecological function of Mt Alma’s 100 ha lagoon. The lagoon provides important habitat for wildlife including migratory wader birds and fish species such as Barramundi, but was choked with thickets of Typha – a native plant that had taken advantage of the constantly wet conditions caused by excess irrigation water.
Waterbirds, fish and other flora and fauna have returned and the lagoon is now able to filter and contain runoff during rainfall events, improving water quality for the downstream areas including the Reef.
Runner Up – Joshua Maunder, landholder from the Wet Tropics region
Joshua restored riparian native vegetation along McPaul creek to create a green corridor between sugarcane agricultural areas, the Bellenden Ker Mountain Range and the Russell River. The native vegetation he planted included a diverse variety of edible trees to provide a food source for native birds and animals, including the critically endangered cassowary. His innovative methods included the use of a variety of different native vegetation to target specific areas.
Thanks to Josh’s improvements, he has significantly reduced sediment loss from gully erosion.
Reef Extension Officer Award
Winner – Debra Telford, Extension Officer for CANEGROWERS Innisfail from the Wet Tropics region
Debra has worked for the sugar industry in Far North Queensland for 20 years. She was instrumental in delivering grants and extension support to growers to reduce their impact on water quality. Deb graciously supported growers through Reef Regulations and assisted with the completion of Environmental Risk Management Plans. When Cyclone Yasi crossed the coast,Deb stepped into the role of Industry Recovery Officer to assist growers to repair their farming practices.
As a Smartcane Best Management Practice facilitator, she has assisted 141 growers to benchmark their farm business in the program and has seen 46 growers to accreditation in Innisfail, which accounts for over 40% of the cane production area of the district.
Runner Up – Allan Blair, Extension Officer for Queensland Government Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
Alan has facilitated numerous workshops for growers and extension staff in the cane growing regions north of Maryborough. He has a long history of working with growers and promoting understanding about the use of pesticides.
Allan also designed a herbicide sprayer that allows two types of herbicide to be used at the same time. By having this ability, it prevents residuals being applied to the inter-row, which carries a high risk of residual pesticide runoff from a rainfall event. This results in an average of 50 per cent reduction of residual herbicides over the paddock which has immediate and positive water quality benefits.
Prince of Wales Environmental Leadership – Reef Sustainability Award Finalists
Winner – Frank and Dianne Sciacca, banana farmers from the Wet Tropics region
Frank and Dianne Sciacca are co-founders of the innovative Ecoganic farming system, which is said to be ahead of its time in protecting the Reef. They have implemented a system which enables fungicide reduction of 60-100%. Their product, the Wax Tip Eco Bananas, is available from nearly all Australian States and Territories.
Runner Up – Tony Bugeja, cane farmer from the Mackay region
Tony is an advocate of change and has been applying proven water quality improvement cane farm practices for more than a decade. His commitment to the sugar industry is demonstrated by his commitment to long term trial projects as well as working closely with industry bodies.