Best practice farming in the Great Barrier Reef catchments

Growers and graziers are continuing to adopt improved farming practices in the Great Barrier Reef catchments.

Adopting best farming practices helps to improve the quality of water reaching the Reef and protect its outstanding universal value. We all benefit by improving the Reef ecosystem health.

Use the links below to industry-specific information on practices which can improve agribusiness outcomes as well as water quality entering the Reef catchments. This includes:

  • how to find out if you are operating in a Reef catchment
  • how this affects your farming system
  • information about sustainable farming practices, research and regulations.

Are you operating in a Reef catchment?

The Great Barrier Reef catchment is made up from all the catchments that flow into the Great Barrier Reef. Use our property search tool to find out if your farming business is within the Reef catchment and subject to the Reef protection regulations.

The Reef receives run-off from 6 natural resource management regions: Cape York, Wet Tropics, Burdekin, Mackay Whitsunday, Fitzroy and Burnett Mary. Within these regions, 35 major catchments flow to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon.

The catchments that flow into the Great Barrier Reef each have different characteristics and farming systems. Grazing is the dominant agricultural land use in the Burdekin and Fitzroy regions. Sugarcane and horticulture crops are more prevalent on the coastal floodplain and Wet Tropics, with high rainfall and irrigation. Grain crops and irrigated cotton are prevalent in the inland areas of the Fitzroy region.

The main centres of population in this area are the cities of Cooktown, Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton, Gladstone and Bundaberg.

As each catchment area is different, different water quality targets have been designed to improve the quality of water leaving the farm and entering the Great Barrier Reef.

The Australian Government and Queensland Government produce regular reef water quality report cards on how we are meeting these targets.

Improve your sustainability and help the Reef

Growers and graziers in the Reef catchments have a special stewardship and responsibility.

Best practice farm management adopts profitable and sustainable business practices, while reducing impacts on the environment.

Reducing soil, nutrient and pesticide run-off is a key focus for properties in the Reef catchments. To encourage this, many industries have introduced best practice standards.

To find tailored information for your farm, check these pages regularly to find the current information on:

Working towards a sustainable future for Queensland agriculture

Our ongoing research by the Queensland Government supports farmers by validating practices that will benefit your business. We're working together so you have the tools, latest information and support needed to make positive changes on your farm.

Watch the videos below which showcase some examples:

  • Reef plan video showcase – Learn about practices to reduce nutrient and sediment run-off to the Reef, and the champions who are leading the way.
  • Water quality monitoring – Water monitoring programs are helping to improve farming practices, water quality and the Reef health.
  • Improving farming practices – Farmers are improving their farming practices in the Wet Tropics through the Major Integrated Project designed by local communities.
  • Sediment journey – Find out how sediment run-off can impact the Reef.
  • What’s the deal with modelling and monitoring? – Watch how run-off from the Reef catchments is studied and why it is important to understand water quality in the Reef.
  • Life in a catchment – Learn what can be done to improve the Reef water quality and reduce polluted run-off in the Reef catchments.
  • Why is nitrogen important? – Learn about responsible use of nitrogen in the Reef catchments.
  • Farming for the future – Find out how to improve practices for sustainable agriculture and healthy land, and protect the Reef.
  • Reducing fertiliser run-off – Learn more about how farmers are making significant improvements to reduce farm run-off and fertiliser loads.
  • Reducing sediment run-off – Innovative practices, best management techniques and new technologies are helping farmers and scientists reduce sediment run-off.