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4619.0 - Land Management Practices in the Great Barrier Reef Catchments, Preliminary, 2008-09  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 22/12/2009  First Issue
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Mackay Whitsunday NRM region

The Mackay Whitsunday NRM spans 4 catchments and covers 906,224 hectares of which 503,572 hectares is used mainly for agricultural production. Four small coastal catchments make up this NRM region with Mackay the major town. Sugar cane growing and beef cattle grazing are the most common agricultural activities in each of the four catchments.


LAND USED MAINLY FOR AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION, By Mackay Whitsunday NRM region - 2008-09
AGRICULTURAL LAND USE AND SELECTED PRACTICES
Total Catchment area
Holdings in the catchment
Land used mainly for agricultural production
Land area over which herbicides were used
(a)
Fertiliser applied
Maintained at least 40% ground cover in riparian areas
Ha.
Number
Ha.
Ha.
Tonnes
Percent

Proserpine River
256,017
238
145,645
15,917
64,426
32.1
O'Connell River
236,875
455
132,118
22,228
97,634
31.1
Pioneer River
158,827
424
75,863
18,031
137,642
39.3
Plane Creek
254,504
822
149,947
42,535
202,453
30.4
Total Mackay Whitsunday NRM
906,224
1,938
503,572
98,712
502,154
32.7

Source: Land Management Practices in the Great Barrier Reef Catchments, Preliminary, 2008-09 (cat. no. 4619.0).
(a) Does not include any area that had herbicide applied using spot spraying.


The Mackay Whitsunday NRM region is made up of the Proserpine river, O'Connell river, Pioneer river and Plane creek catchments and covers an area of approximately 900 000 hectares.


Proserpine River catchment

The Proserpine River catchment is located between Bowen and Mackay. Sugar cane production and beef cattle grazing are the main agricultural activities. Land used mainly for agricultural production covers 57% of the catchment.

At least 78% of the holdings in this catchment reported undertaking at least one land management practice to mitigate surface water run-off. Rubble spoon drains were used by 39% of holdings while recycling pits or sediment dams were used by 38% of the holdings. Maintaining at least 40% ground cover in riparian areas and/or constructed waterways (32%) and furrow management (30%), were other common practices.

Significant amounts of fertiliser were used in all catchments in the Mackay Whitsunday NRM region, with 64,426 tonnes of fertiliser applied in this catchment, including 42,843 tonnes of mill mud/ash.

Of holdings reporting beef cattle, one quarter reported actively controlling their stock access to riparian areas.

O'Connell River catchment

The O'Connell River catchment is located just north of Mackay. Sugar cane and beef cattle grazing are the main agricultural activities. Land used mainly for agricultural production covers 56% of the catchment.

Just under 80% of the holdings in this catchment reported undertaking a surface water run-off management practice. Ensuring at least 40% ground cover remained on paddocks at the end of the 2008 dry season was the most common practice, undertaken by 44% of the holdings. Only 12% of the holdings used furrow management to mitigate surface water run-off. Holdings in other catchments in the Mackay Whitsunday NRM region reported usage rates of between 23% and 30% for this practice.

Holdings in this catchment reported using 46,892 tonnes of dunder and 43,899 tonnes of mill mud/ash.

Pioneer River catchment

The Pioneer River catchment is a small catchment located west of Mackay. National Parks and State Forests cover much of the steep western edge of the catchment, with sugar cane growing the main agricultural activity on the flatter plains. Beef cattle grazing is the most common agricultural activity. Just under half of the area of the catchment (48%) is land used mainly for agricultural production.

Holdings in this catchment reported applying significant amounts of fertiliser, particularly mill mud/ash (88,214 tonnes) and dunder (43,210 tonnes). The rate of fertiliser applied (1.8 tonnes per hectare of agricultural land) was one of the highest in the 28 catchments.

Plane Creek catchment

The Plane Creek catchment runs south from Mackay, occupying a narrow coastal plain. Sugar cane growing and beef cattle grazing were the main agricultural activities. Land used mainly for agricultural production covers 59% of the catchment.

More fertiliser (202,453 tonnes), at an application rate of 1.4 tonnes per hectare of agricultural land, was used in Plane Creek than in any of the 28 catchments in the Great Barrier Reef. With four sugar mills in close proximity, dunder (98,736 tonnes) and mill mud/ash (90,241 tonnes) were the main fertilisers applied.

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