QUEENSLAND's horticulture industry has launched its Hort360 Reef Certification program, which aims to demonstrate that farms are being responsibility managed in Great Barrier Reef catchments.
Supported by the Queensland Government, the voluntary certification program is seen as an opportunity to potentially avoid the need for regulated minimum standards for horticulture.
Growcom's Hort360 manager Scott Wallace said it was an opportunity for horticulture to demonstrate it is meeting best practice standards for soil, water and crops, while achieving a good financial returns.
"Hort360 Reef Certification will provide a quality, credible certification pathway for horticulture growers to demonstrate their environmental stewardship in Great Barrier Reef catchments," Mr Wallace said.
"The intent to establishing a Hort360 Reef Certification is not to add to, but align and leverage, current systems used by horticulture businesses which specifically provide a water quality outcome," Mr Wallace said.
"It is recognised that the majority of horticulture businesses operate within a food safety quality assurance system, and that some horticulture businesses also have an environmental certification.
"These independently audited systems are widely recognised across the horticulture industry supply chain.
"While these systems satisfy a specific purpose, they are far broader than what is required to achieve Hort360 Reef Certification.
"The Hort360 Reef Certification framework specifically focusses on environmental stewardship and industry best practice standards in reef catchments that will deliver improved water quality."
Hort360 is described as an easy to use, step-by-step, facilitated risk assessment tool designed to give growers a 360-degree view of their farm business operations. Hort360 is based on many years of extension work with growers throughout Queensland. The module can be completed as a self-assessment or with a Hort360 facilitator.
Great Barrier Reef Minister Leeanne Enoch said through this certification, businesses would be acknowledged for protecting the reef and supporting the community.
Hort360 GBR BMP is funded through the Queensland Government's Reef Water Quality Program and delivered by Growcom.
CLICK HERE to access the Hort360 Reef Certification module or for assistance, contact a Hort360 GBR facilitator.