Growing better: Halting run-off in horticulture

Eric Coleman in a paddockThe storm water from the property was running down a slope towards the wetland and to make matters worse was mixing with other stormwater from the neighbouring properties before it reached the wetland.

Eric Coleman, the property manager realised the storm water was a concern for erosion and the health of the wetland due to sediment and pesticides run-off occurring from the farm. 

Rainy weather in Central Queensland in the last few years has been a boon for local wetlands, and the fish, birds and other wildlife that rely on them. One local grower is helping protect local natural beauty by reducing run-off from his property.

The Coleman family farm produces a range of foods that appear on the menu for most families including sweet potatoes, sweet corn, zucchini, pumpkins as well as melons. A wetland located downhill from the farm situated on the Fitzroy flood plain at Gracemere, west of Rockhampton, is being protected from stormwater run-off thanks to Reef Rescue funding.

Fitzroy Basin Association, industry body Growcom and the Queensland Government worked with the Colemans to design a project to rectify the stormwater issues for the property. FBA supported the project through funding from the Australian Government’s Reef Rescue initiative.

The project incorporated determining the size and positioning of drains and a sediment trap, as well as the installation of an additional underground irrigation mainline and a hydrant, to facilitate full farm trickle irrigation.

The project team drew on industry best practice guidelines to design the changes to farm layout and ensure the success of the modifications.

Eric has been able to better manage the storm water that enters and leaves the vegetable farm by improving the farms internal drainage and polishing the water before it runs off into the wetland.

He has had some sections of the farm laser levelled to reduce the areas where channels had formed from the storm water run-off. Drains were installed along the east and west boundaries of the farm to guide the water to the northern end of the farm where the sediment trap was installed.

The sediment trap has a shallow area that filters the water before it leaves the property and enters the adjacent wetland. The overburden from the drains was used to slightly elevate the existing roadways so they can act as contour banks to keep the neighbour’s water from entering the property.

Eric is happy with the progress of his crops following the project work to laser level the farm and better manage the storm water on the property and is pleased the work has had a positive impact on the wetland.

Eric Coleman and his sweet potato crop
Image courtesy Reef Rescue