Project Catalyst has a focus on the improvement of water quality from agricultural catchments that flow into the Great Barrier Reef. The program works directly with innovative farmers to trial and validate their farm management practices, Project Catalyst supports and promotes practical solutions to increase water use efficiency, prevention of runoff, reduced application of nutrients and pesticides, as well as better management of soils.
Project Catalyst supports a network of Mackay Whitsunday, Burdekin, and Wet Tropics farmers who lead the way in the use of cutting-edge management practices for a more sustainable and productive farming future.
Major Water Quality Benefits
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
Forums for all
Forums, which are held every year, rotate between Mackay, Townsville and Cairns.
Mackay was the home for the 2020 Forum
The latest Project Catalyst forum started with registration and a welcome on Sunday, 23 February at the MECC on the lawn near the fig tree. The two days of the forum presented a wide range of inspiring speakers including farmers, agricultural leaders, and experts from the fields of industry and technology.
The 2019 Project Catalyst Annual Forum was attended by more than 185 guests in Cairns N.Q. The theme “Back to our roots – soil, water and the reef” attracted keynote speakers, Adam Jalaludin and Nicole Robinson, who shared their research into Herbicide Resistance and Soil Health, with resounding success. Organic farmer Stuart Larsson also informed and entertained as the dinner speaker.
What started as a partnership between 19 sugarcane farmers in the Mackay Whitsunday regions, their local NRM Reef Catchments, WWF, and Coca-Cola South Pacific, has resulted in more than a decade of innovative farming practices to reduce nutrient runoff to the Great Barrier Reef. More than 130 cane growers have since joined the program and actively participated in trials, forums, shed talks, and other events, to be inspired and to adopt practice changes on farm.
In 2020 the forum returns to its birthplace in Mackay and will celebrate their achievements and the positive work being done by sugar cane growers to improve the environment and their communities.