Project Catalyst is a pioneering partnership between more than 70 innovative Queensland cane growers and major program partners – Reef Catchments, Terrain Natural Resource Management, NQ Dry Tropics, the Australian Government, WWF and The Coca-Cola Foundation.
Participants at the recent Australasia Pacific Extension Network Conference were provided with a wide-ranging update on Project Catalyst by Andrew Rouse, Program Manager of Sustainable Agriculture, WWF-Australia.
All information about Project Catalyst can now be accessed through the new website.
One of the key focuses of Project Catalyst is the improvement of water quality from agricultural catchments that flows into the Great Barrier Reef. Working directly with innovative farmers to trial and validate their farm management practices, Project Catalyst is able to support and promote practical solutions to increase water use efficiency, prevention of runoff, reduced application of nutrients and pesticides as well as better management of soils. The reduced pollution loads from the work of the Project Catalyst farmers entering the Great Barrier Reef are a testament to the value of the program.
Project Catalyst supports a network of Mackay Whitsunday, Burdekin and Wet Tropics farmers who are leading the way in the use of cutting-edge management practices for a more sustainable and productive farming future.
Project Catalyst 2017 Grower Forum
Numerous speakers, who covered a wide variety of topics, were the highlight of the 2017 Project Catalyst 2017 held in Mackay.
The theme, ‘Innovation beyond 2020 and adopting change’ presented speakers with the chance to reveal numerous useful insights into the role technology plays in the innovation and the economics of agriculture.
As a result of feedback from previous forums,the program included grower trials and innovations, as well as presentations by people working with industry.
Attendees took part in numerous workshops where they discussed topics ranging from water quality, and nutrient usage, to productivity.
The forum provided growers with an opening to discuss trials they had been running on their farms to increase production, reduce environmental impacts, and improve economic returns for future farming.
Project Catalyst 2016 Grower Forum
The Project Catalyst Growers Forum is an annual event that brings together growers involved in on-ground trials to network and collaborate. The event is invitation-only, creating an ideal environment for sugarcane industry grower-leaders to learn and share together.
Project Catalyst supports a network of innovative farmers to fast-track the adoption of cutting edge management practices. Project Catalyst is a unique partnership that brings together sugarcane growers, The Coca-Cola Foundation, WWF and regional NRM groups, with support from the Australian Government. It started with 19 sugarcane growers within the Mackay Whitsunday region trialling innovative sugar cane farming practices and has expanded to include more than 75 growers covering the surrounding sugar cane growing areas of Queensland’s Wet and Dry Tropics.
Project Catalyst Growers Forum is a way to recognise and support the good work being done by the Project Catalyst Growers and Partners in breaking new ground in sustainable agriculture. The Project Catalyst Growers Forum is the peak event for Project Catalyst growers, bringing together all involved to network and learn more about market transformations, international trends and innovation in agriculture in Australia and globally. The forum is also a chance for growers to present an update of current Project Catalyst trials being conducted throughout the year, and offer new ideas for future projects. The forum is a three-day event looked forward to by growers and industry alike. It is an opportunity to share learnings from other work in the cane, agriculture, and water quality space, with the focus always on innovation.
Project Catalyst forums, which have previously been held in Cairns (2016), Townsville (2015) and in Mackay and Whitsundays (2014), have attracted global experts in sustainable agriculture and innovation. They have included such keynote guests as Dave McLaughlin (WWF Vice President of Agriculture in the USA), and Professor David Cropley (Associate Professor in Engineering Innovation at the University of South Australia and scientific consultant for the ABC TV Documentary Redesign My Brain). Here is further information on the 2014 Grower Forum and also on the Burdekin Field Trip.
Major Water Quality Benefits
To date, Project Catalyst growers have provided major water quality benefits to the Great Barrier Reef by significantly reducing the level of sediment and chemical runoff from farms through the adoption of innovative and improved farm practices. Over a period of five years from 2008 to 2014 the following decreases were recorded:
- Reduction of particulate nitrogen by 25 tonnes per annum
- Reduction of particulate phosphorus by 12 tonnes per annum
- Reduction of dissolved inorganic nitrogen by 22 tonnes per annum
- Reduction of filterable reactive phosphorus by 4 tonnes per annum
- Reduction of pesticides leaving the farm by 190 kg per annum
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