JANET and Peter Anderson celebrated a significant milestone in a big way last year, establishing Jubilee Macadamias.
The property consists of an orchard of macadamia trees in Farnsfield, near Childers in Queensland.
Originally a sugarcane farm, the Andersons transformed their family property after planting 38 hectares of A203, 741 and 344 macadamia trees.
Their farm is located in the upper catchment of the Burrum River which flows directly into the southern lagoon of the Great Barrier Reef.
Consequently, the Andersons have been keen to maintain a no-bare-earth approach to their farming practice.
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Because of their proximity to the reef, they were able to apply for a small grant incentive funded by the Australian Government and available to horticulture growers through Growcom.
With the help of this grant, the Andersons undertook several on-farm improvements to address potential water efficiencies associated with soil, irrigation and loss of nutrients.
These improvements included a re-alignment of headlands, seeding with Rhodes grass to establish 100 per cent ground cover, and the installation of G-Dot moisture sensors.
Whilst the benefits of redesigning headlands and seeding inter-rows were a little slow to reveal themselves, the moisture sensors showed an immediate benefit.
"As soon as the G-Dots were installed and up-and-running, they were telling us that we were watering too much," Mrs Anderson said.
"We have dramatically modified our irrigation practices as a result of these monitors, reducing the amount of irrigation without impacting the growth of the trees."
Since commencing their involvement in the incentive program, the Andersons have also completed four Reef Water Quality modules of horticulture's best management practice (BMP) program, Hort360.
This involved answering a simple series of questions about their current farming practices to identify whether they were operating at the level of industry best practice and whether there were any more areas for improvement.
Upon completion of these modules, an evaluation report generated by Hort360 indicated Jubilee Macadamias was operating at industry best practice for nutrient, sediment and irrigation management.
Before now, the Andersons had not been involved with any grant programs.
Much to their delight, they found the application process to be straightforward and uncomplicated.
Mrs Anderson said through the grant program and by engaging with Hort360, she and her husband have become more aware of how their farming practices impact the environment.
They have been reinvigorated by the experience to continue to make on-farm changes for the better.
"We're keen to do more work," she said.
Grants, capped at $5000, are available to horticulture growers looking to make on-farm improvements to reduce agricultural run-off impacting Reef water quality.
- Copy supplied by Growcom.