Extension services in reef catchments

The department offers a range of extension services to support growers and graziers to adopt better business  and farming practices within reef catchments.

Specialist extension staff and agricultural economists provide:

  • hands-on technical assistance
  • economic support
  • on-farm assistance to trial new practices
  • information resources
  • economic decision support tools
  • participation at field days and other events
  • research into improved farming systems.

Grazing extension services are provided as part of the department's programs. Our extension staff help graziers implement grazing systems that are profitable and productive while also reducing nutrients and sediment runoff into local waterways and the reef.

Our coastal farming systems program has a team of agronomists working in the Burnett, Mackay, Burdekin and Wet Tropics regions to help sugar cane farmers adopt sustainable and productive management systems. This work supports CANEGROWERS' Smartcane BMP.

We also help deliver the Grains BMP and Banana BMP programs and provide research and extension services to growers to improve business and environmental outcomes.

A new ‘Enhanced Extension coordination’ project has commenced to improve coordination, collaboration and communication across different producer and extension networks, to increase adoption of agricultural land management practices that lead to improved water quality.

The project has engaged regional coordinators to collaborate with extension networks throughout the six GBR Natural Resource Management (NRM) regions to identify ways to better apply and tailor extension services to meet required needs and recommend other services that can support whole-of-farm outcomes.

In addition to the Regional Coordinators, a cross-regional Manager (Extension Coordination) has been appointed to oversee collaboration in the six NRM regions.

This project will interact with a wide range of Australian and Queensland government funded projects, particularly those delivering on-ground services to producers to ensure minimal duplication and maximum impact.

One of the priority outcomes of the project is the development, or expansion of regional extension networks to improve coordination and collaboration. Regional Coordinators will be hosting networks and groups and a key output from this process will be the development of regional extension plans that can help identify gaps and new opportunities around extension activities moving forward.

The Queensland Government’s Reef Water Quality Program has supported the Enhanced Extension project through $3 million funding over three years. Funding is aligned to the Water Science Taskforce recommendation for more targeted and coordinated extension to support large scale land management practice change.

Program delivery

For local information about the project in the NRM regions, please use contact details below:

  • Cape York Region through Cape York NRM: 1300 132 262
  • Wet Tropics Region through Terrain NRM: 07 4043 8000
  • Burdekin Dry Tropics Region (grazing): NQ Dry Tropics 07 4799 3500
  • Burdekin Dry Tropics Region (cane): Department of Agriculture and Fisheries 0447 108 010
  • Mackay Whitsunday Region: through Department of Agriculture and Fisheries 0477 342 946
  • Fitzroy Region through Fitzroy Basin Association 07 4999 2800
  • Burnett Mary Region through Burnett Mary Region Group: 07 4181 2999

A pilot agricultural capacity building project commenced in March 2017 and will run until October 2018. The program is made up of two components: building capacity in extension training and an extension work placement program.

Training will be provided for extension officers across the catchments that feed into the Great Barrier Reef. It will address the skills and knowledge gaps identified as critical to developing and enhancing extension services.

The second component of the program will involve an agricultural extension work placement across the catchments of the Great Barrier Reef to improve the capacity of early career extension officers.

The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and Department of Environment and Science are working in collaboration with Queensland Farmers’ Federation to further increase improvements in land management through enhancing capacity in education and extension sectors.