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Tully farmer finds funding a-peeling to help the Reef

4/June/2021

Banana grower Patrick Leahy has developed a wetland on his 230-hectare farm to reduce nutrients, sediment and pesticides flowing into waterways and then into the Great Barrier Reef.

Leahys Bananas has 368,000 cavendish banana plants on a farm in the Tully region.

The wetland project received more than $500,000 in funding through the Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project (MIP) which works with banana and sugarcane growers in the Tully and Johnstone regions to test a range of tools and approaches to reduce nutrients, sediment and pesticides running off into the river catchments.

The MIP includes a broad range of activities from water quality monitoring and catchment repair to incentives and extension.

The funding was used to assist with the development of a wetland which covers around two-hectares of the property.

Mr Leahy said since early 2019 a wetland was created by digging out the site, putting in silt traps and elevated beds, plus a rock wall to stop any outflow.

“The work has been stop/start due to rainfall filling the site, however, we’ve been able to plant a number of species of flora around the perimeter of the wetland which are designed to catch sediment and treat nitrogen,” he said.

“The plants have colonised which is great to see.

“This is a work in progress and will be for some time in order to maintain the weed and surrounds, however, it will eventually become its own ecosystem and take care of itself.

“Water samples have been taken so we can track our progress.

“This year’s samples are looking good, and we’ve seen improvement with a 43 per cent reduction in sediment and nutrient run off.

“As a result, we’re anticipating next year’s results will be even better.

“A lot of consultation and planning has gone into this and it’s been a positive experience.

“While this wetland has no direct impact on the productivity of the bananas, the benefit is a personal one knowing that I’m doing the right thing for the environment.

“I encourage other growers to get on board and have a crack.”

Information on MIP is available at:

https://www.qld.gov.au/environment/agriculture/sustainable-farming/reef/reef-major-projects

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