Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan

Reef Plan is a joint commitment of the Australian and Queensland Governments that seeks to improve the quality of water flowing from the catchments adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef.

The plan builds on 15 years of efforts by governments at all levels working in partnership with landholders, natural resource managers, industry, research and conservation groups through successive Reef Water Quality Protection Plans.

It recognises a number of different sources of water pollution including run-off from urban, industrial and public land, while acknowledging that the majority of water pollution arises from agricultural activities. It includes social, cultural and economic values for the first time, playing a critical role in the Reef Plan's success.

DAF has responsibilities under Reef Plan to provide producers and extension providers with information about improved management practices and encourage the uptake of sustainable and profitable land management practice which aid in delivering improved water quality.

Extension in reef catchments

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


The DAF beef extension team help graziers implement grazing systems that are profitable and productive and also reduce runoff of sediments and nutrients into local waterways and the reef.

GRASS program

The GRASS program works with beef producers in the Burdekin, Fitzroy and Burnett Mary regions to deliver tailored land-management plans to help address land in poor or degraded condition. The program is funded through the Queensland Government Reef Water Quality Program and is delivered by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), Burnett Mary Regional Group, Fitzroy Basin Association and NQ Dry Tropics. Extension officers from these groups provide support and information to graziers in each region.


Information and tools are also available through FutureBeef.


Our coastal farming systems program has a team of agronomists working in the Mackay, Burdekin and Wet Tropics regions to help cane farmers adopt holistic management systems which deliver water quality, production and sustainable outcomes. The coastal farming systems team works closely with various research organisations, productivity service boards, NRM bodies and industry bodies such as CANEGROWERS.


We have a team of grains extension officers and grains economists working with growers to help them improve business and environmental outcomes. The team is particularly focused on grain production in the reef catchments of the Fitzroy, Burdekin and Burnett Mary.


We a help deliver the Banana BMP program and provide research and extension services to growers. This work supports the ABGC program.


We have a team of horticultural research and extension officers working with growers in multiple industries in target reef catchments to help identify science-based options for management practice change, which maintain business profitability and deliver environmental outcomes for reef water quality.

Agricultural economic analysis

DAF agricultural economists work with farmers and industry stakeholders to assess the costs and benefits of different management practices and systems to improve decision-making and increase the adoption of profitable and sustainable practices. Resources are available in the following publication sets for sugarcane, grazing, bananas and grains.

Enhanced Extension

The Reef Plan Enhanced Extension Coordination program operates throughout the reef catchment and provides a network of Regional Extension Coordinators working to improve collaboration and improve the delivery of extension services to achieve Reef Plan targets.

Monitoring the success of Reef Plan

The progress of Reef Plan is measured by Paddock to Reef which is an integrated monitoring, modelling and reporting program. DAF collects and reports information on the adoption of best management practices in a series of Report Cards.

The latest Report Card 2016 shows better targeting of investment is resulting in less pollution flowing to the reef.

Further information