Mackay Whitsunday Water Quality Program

Working with landholders in the sugarcane industry to improve nutrient management, pesticide management, and irrigation practices on farm while maintaining or improving productivity and profitability.


Reef Catchments has been engaged by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation to manage the program delivery of the MWWQP. The MWWQP includes ten individual water quality projects which are currently being delivered by delivery providers in the region.

Harvesting equipment harvesting cane in field.The program works with landholders in the cane industry to improve nutrient management, pesticide management, and irrigation practices on farm while maintaining or improving productivity and profitability. Growers receive agronomic and technical support, as well as financial incentives, to address barriers to change.

The program targets greater retention of chemicals and nutrients in the paddock and aims to establish enduring economic drivers to maintain best practice that will lead to ongoing water quality improvement.

The MWWQP focusses on sugar industry practice change in two priority catchments, the Plane and Pioneer, to reduce pesticide and dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) loads. Results so far show the program is well on track to meet or exceed these targets.

Since launching two years ago, growers across 43,170 hectares have become involved in the program – accounting for approximately 40 percent of available sugar cane land in the priority catchments.

In October 2022, due to high grower engagement, additional funding was announced to allow for expansion into the Proserpine and O’Connell catchments.

Small incentives to assist growers making the practice change are being offered within most projects and a larger major incentive, requiring a 50% cash co-contribution from growers, is also available to a smaller number of participating growers.

Major Grants

Major Grants incentives for growers aims to support growers within the target catchments in adopting practice change that will benefit both their farming operations and water quality outcomes.  To date, 76 grants have been funded resulting in positive outcomes for water quality, and cost reductions to the grower. Read more by clicking the button below.

Information about Major Grants for MWWQP.


Additional Project Activity Areas:

CaneRise Mackay Whitsunday

There is a range of support available in the Mackay Whitsunday region to help cane growers make practice improvements and try new things.

CaneRise Mackay Whitsunday is here to help you grow productivity and profits through sustainable practices. It’s a central place to find:

  • current projects and local support
  • tools and resources
  • funding opportunities

CaneRise Website Banner


Pesticides information for MWWQP.Information about dissolved inorganic nitrogen for MWWQP.Information about irrigation for MWWQP.


Case Studies

Major Grants helps Sandiford grower Jeff Grech improve soil health, water quality, and production.

Building Knowledge of Farming Practices and their Impact on Water Quality

Practice Change Leads to a Bright Future for Productivity and Water Quality

Mackay Growers Supporting Water Quality Outcomes

LAND – a Local Area Nutrient Datahub

Farmacist Project – Point of Difference (POD)

Mackay Area Productivity Services (MAPS) – Nutrient Management Planning

Sugar Research Australia (SRA) – Cane to Creek

The video below looks at the program in action through the eyes of landholders involved.


More Information

MWWQP Photo Competition Winners and Gallery

MWWQP eNewsletters

Fact Sheet – Mackay Whitsunday Water Quality Program

Frequently Asked Questions

More information about the MWWQP from the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.