Pesticide runoff from agricultural lands has been recognised as a serious threat to the health and productivity of the Great Barrier Reef and is considered a priority pollutant for management in the GBR catchment area. A total package of $1,650,000 was allocated across three main projects that delivered a better appreciation of the magnitude of the chemical pollution issues for the GBR, the contributing sources and land uses, and options for management.
The water quality benefits of various management practices in the sugarcane (RRRD037), grazing (RRRD038) and banana (RRRD038) industries were measured and supported by studies of the half lives of pesticides in soils (RRRD037), freshwater (RRRD038) and marine (RRRD038) environments to improve modelling approaches in the Paddock to Reef program. The potential water quality and agronomic benefits of alternative herbicide products (to those currently used) (RRRD037) in the sugarcane industry were also assessed.
A technique used to develop an index of herbicide and pesticide toxicity in rivers draining into the GBR was investigated (RRRD058).
The results from these projects have been used to inform the Reef Rescue Water Quality Grants program and priorities for future investment for managing pesticide runoff in the GBR catchments.