Boogan banana farmer Gavin Devaney wins Future Farming Award

Gavin Devaney (right) is presented with the Future Farming Award by special guest, Matt Wright, who stars in the Outback Wrangler television series. Photo courtesy of Australian Banana Growers’ Council

GAVIN Devaney, a farmer from Boogan, was recognised for his outstanding achievement in Banana Best Management Practice and presented with the inaugural Future Farming Award at the Australian Banana Industry Congress Gala Ball and Awards of Honour in Cairns.  These awards are presented biannually as part of the Australian Banana Industry Congress held recently over three days at the Cairns Convention Centre and Pullman Cairns International Hotel.

Five farmers who are leading the way with outstanding farming practices that contribute to water quality improvement in local waterways and the Great Barrier Reef were acknowledged.

Mr Devaney from Bartle Frere Bananas has converted a 65-acre former cane paddock at Boogan into a best practice banana farm with innovative runoff solutions.  The modified farm drain, which is fully vegetated, can handle large volumes of water and be maintained with a slasher.  It treats water by filtering sediment and nutrients and is showing promising results in improving farm run-off water quality. 

“My aim is to improve the farm’s layout and reduce its environmental impacts, whilst maintaining productivity and profitability,” he advised.

The Australian Banana Growers’ Council and the Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project (MIP) have supported the Devaney family to implement a combination of best management practice principles and leading-edge drainage solutions.

The Wet Tropics MIP is a water quality project funded through the Queensland Government’s Reef Water Quality Program.  It is coordinated by Terrain in partnership with Australian Banana Growers’ Council, Canegrowers, local government, community groups, traditional owners, consultants, investors, and researchers.

Mr Devaney covered the costs of implementing his farm re-design, whilst allowing the Wet Tropics MIP to utilise around two acres of productive land to fund and trial an innovative in-drain wetland on his farm to determine its ability to replicate the same nitrogen removal process that occurs in a natural wetland, together with its potential to remove sediment and pesticides from water flowing from agricultural land into local waterways.

He also participates in project reference groups and has contributed to the Best Management Practice Guideline.  His enthusiasm to embrace new technologies and share information for the benefit of his farm and the broader farming community is evident through his participation in the Smart Farms project, which is using remote sensing to measure aspects of BMP, including nutrient loss through leaching, that have the potential to influence BMP standards for the entire industry into the future. 

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