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Burnett Mary summary

The Burnett Mary's overall marine condition remained poor in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. Inshore water quality declined from moderate in 2010-2011 to poor in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. The condition of seagrass remained very poor. No coral monitoring occurs in the Burnett Mary region under the Marine Monitoring Program.

Burnett Mary marine condition graph

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Burnett Mary snapshot

A standardised scoring system was developed for each of the key indicators in the report card. The scoring system is used to assess and communicate progress towards the management practice and catchment targets as well as current marine condition using the following categories:

Results—colour coding
Very goodGoodModerate
PoorVery Poor 

Management practices

Grazing Sugarcane Horticulture
Proportion of graziers who adopted improved practices between 2009 and 2013.
Target: 50 per cent by 2013
Proportion of growers who adopted improved practices between 2009 and 2013.
Target: 80 per cent by 2013
Proportion of producers who adopted improved practices between 2009 and 2013.
Target: 80 per cent by 2013
Grazing 19% Sugarcane 55% Horticulture 50%

Catchment indicators

Groundcover Nitrogen Sediment Pesticides
Late dry season groundcover as at 2012–2013.
Target: 50 per cent by 2013.
Reduction in annual average total nitrogen load between 2009 and 2013.
Target: 50 per cent
Reduction in annual average sediment load between 2009 and 2013.
Target: 20 per cent by 2020
Reduction in annual average pesticide load between 2009 and 2013.
Target: 50 per cent by 2013
Groundcover 92% Nitrogen 15% Sediment 3% Pesticides 28%

Management practices

Grazing

Grazing 19% - Poor resultTarget: 50 per cent by 2013.
From 2009 to 2013, 19 per cent of graziers (484) are known to have adopted improved land management practices, up from 16 per cent (404) to June 2012.

There are 2,495 graziers managing 28,618 square kilometres of land in the Burnett Mary region.

By June 2013, 80 per cent of graziers were using (A or B) systems that are likely to maintain land in good to very good condition or improve land in lesser condition, up from 77 per cent in June 2012.

Graph data (.csv, 1KB)

Of the 484 graziers who implemented improved practices, 285 completed Reef Rescue Water Quality Grants projects facilitated by the Burnett Catchment Care Association, Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee, and the Burnett Mary Regional Group. A total of 77 graziers completed relevant training through AgForward, private sector consultants (supported by the FarmReady program) and the Queensland Government. Another 122 graziers adopted improved management practices through participation in targeted extension projects implemented by Burnett Catchment Care Association and the Queensland Government (supported by the Reef Rescue program).

Sugarcane

Sugarcane 55% - Moderate resultTarget: 80 per cent by 2013.
From 2009 to 2013, 55 per cent of sugarcane growers (275) are known to have adopted improved land management practices, up from 47 per cent (232) to June 2012.

There are 498 growers managing 476 square kilometres of land in the Burnett Mary region.

By June 2013, cutting-edge (A) or best management (B) systems were used by 54 per cent of sugarcane growers for nutrients, 28 per cent for herbicides and 32 per cent for soil. This was up from 54 per cent for nutrients, 26 per cent for herbicides and 31 per cent for soil in June 2012.

Graph data (.csv, 1KB)

All 275 growers who implemented improved practices completed Reef Rescue Water Quality Grants projects facilitated by the Burnett Mary Regional Group. Of these, 112 improved nutrient management practices, 102 improved herbicide management practices and 111 improved soil management practices. The Reef Rescue Program directly improved management practices on 18,000 hectares of sugarcane farm land in the Burnett Mary region between 2009 and 2013.

Horticulture

Horticulture 25% - Moderate resultTarget: 80 per cent by 2013.
From 2009 to 2013, 55 per cent of sugarcane growers (275) are known to have adopted improved land management practices, up from 47 per cent (232) to June 2012.

There are 280 horticulture producers managing 160 square kilometres of land in the Burnett Mary region.

By June 2013, cutting-edge (A) or best management (B) systems were used by 55 per cent of horticulture producers for nutrients, 76 per cent for herbicides and 76 per cent for soil. This was up from 54 per cent for nutrients, 75 per cent for herbicides and 76 per cent for soil in June 2012.

All 140 horticulture producers who implemented improved practices did so with the support of Reef Rescue Water Quality Grants, facilitated by the Burnett Mary Regional Group and the Growcom Farm Management System (FMS) program. Of these, 75 completed nutrient management projects, 44 completed soil management projects and 29 completed herbicide management projects.

Graph data (.csv, 1KB)

Industry-wide management system adoption is estimated using the proportions established through the Growcom FMS in each region, and expressed as the percentage of growers with A, B, C or D management systems.

It is important to note that the level of grower participation in the program has increased year by year. As the proportion of the grower population represented in the program increases, so the distribution of A, B, C or D management systems changes over time as a reflection of the larger and more representative sample size. Early participants in the program have often been relatively progressive landholders, and this is apparent in terms of relatively high proportions of A and B in the management system distribution in early years. Increasing program participation over time can have the effect of diluting the percentage of growers in the A and B categories over time. This is not to be seen as a regression of farm management systems.

Catchment indicators

Groundcover

Groundcover 92% - Very good resultTarget: 50 per cent by 2013.
Late dry season mean groundcover for grazing lands of the Burnett Mary region was high (89 per cent by June 2012 and 92 per cent by June 2013). The 26-year mean groundcover was 85 per cent.

Groundcover results for the Burnett Mary region and catchments
Catchment/ region 26-year mean groundcover (%) 2012 mean groundcover (%) 2013 mean groundcover (%) Area with less than 50% groundcover averaged over past 26 years (%) Area with less than 50% groundcover in 2012 (%) Area with less than 50% groundcover in 2013 (%)
Baffle 89 91 96 0.5 0.4 0.3
Burnett 85 88 92 0.9 0.2 0.2
Burrum 86 88 92 3.3 1.4 1.7
Kolan 88 91 95 0.5 0.2 0.3
Mary 88 90 94 0.4 0.1 0.1
Burnett Mary region 85 89 92 0.9 0.3 0.2

Groundcover changes over time

Over the past 26 years, the Burnett Mary region has had a consistently high mean annual groundcover of 85 per cent with a minimum of 77 per cent in 2002. The highest level of groundcover was 93 per cent in 2011.

Graph data (.csv, 1KB)

The greatest area with groundcover less than 50 per cent was 2.9 per cent in 1991. For all other years in the 26-year period, the area with groundcover less than 50 per cent has been below two per cent.

Graph data (.csv, 1KB)

Mean annual rainfall for the Burnett Mary region over the period 1988 to 2013 is 816 millimetres. Mean annual rainfall has been well above average since 2010 and this has resulted in very good mean groundcover levels for the region over the past five years.

Graph data (.csv, 1KB)


Catchment pollutant loads

Nitrogen

Nitrogen 15% - Poor resultTarget: 50 per cent by 2013.
The estimated annual average total nitrogen load leaving catchments reduced by 15 per cent (212 tonnes) by June 2013, up from 13 per cent (181 tonnes) by June 2012. Agricultural fertiliser use is a key source of dissolved inorganic nitrogen. The estimated annual average dissolved inorganic nitrogen load leaving catchments reduced by 31 per cent (134 tonnes) by June 2013, up from 28 per cent (122 tonnes) by June 2012.

Phosphorus

Phosphorus 10%  - Very poor resultTarget: 50 per cent by 2013.
Agricultural fertiliser use is a key source of phosphorus. The estimated annual average total phosphorus load leaving catchments reduced by 10 per cent (22 tonnes) by June 2013, up from eight per cent (17 tonnes) by June 2012.

Pesticides

Pesticides 28% - Moderate resultTarget: 50 per cent by 2013.
The estimated annual average pesticide load leaving catchments reduced by 28 per cent (420 kilograms) by June 2013, up from 23 per cent (352 kilograms) by June 2012.

Sediment

Sediment 3% - Very poor resultTarget: 20 per cent by 2020.
The estimated annual average suspended sediment load leaving catchments reduced by three per cent (10,900 tonnes) by June 2013, up from two per cent (8,800 tonnes) by June 2012.

Graph data (.csv, 1KB)

Note: Land management changes in the horticulture industry have not been modelled.


Marine

Water quality

There is no comprehensive, ongoing in situ water quality monitoring in the Burnett Mary region. Estimates of chlorophyll a and total suspended solids are derived from remote sensing only, which requires further field validation and, hence, estimates have relatively low reliability compared to those for other regions.

Inshore water quality (assessed by remote sensing of chlorophyll a and suspended solids) in the Burnett Mary region was poor in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. The continued decline was driven by relatively large changes in chlorophyll a, while total suspended solids remained stable, which is a consequence of the recent large-scale flood events.

Chlorophyll a was rated as very poor in both 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. Concentrations exceeded the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Water Quality Guidelines for 99 and 97 percent of the inshore area in the dry and wet season, respectively, in 2012-2013. Total suspended solids were rated as good in both 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. However, concentrations exceeded the guidelines for 27 and 36 per cent of the inshore area in the dry and wet season, respectively, in 2012-2013.

There is no routine monitoring of pesticides in the Burnett Mary.

Trend in the Water Quality Index from 2011-2012 to 2012-2013. The Water Quality Index is also separated into component scores for concentrations of chlorophyll a and total suspended solids. Trend data is only shown for these two years, because a major change in the remote sensing algorithms mean the historical data is no longer directly comparable. The full historical time-series will be reprocessed for the next report card.

Graph data (.csv, 1KB)

Seagrass

The overall condition of inshore seagrass in the Burnett Mary region remained very poor in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, reflecting very poor abundance and reproductive effort of seagrass meadows. Seagrass condition has generally been declining since 2005-2006; however, the indicators driving the condition assessment have varied over the monitoring period.

Graph data (.csv, 1KB)

Seagrass is monitored at estuarine sites at Rodds Bay and Urangan, in the north and south of the Burnett Mary region, respectively. The primary environmental drivers of community composition at these sites are fluctuating temperatures, catchment run-off and high turbidity. Seagrass abundance and reproductive effort were very poor throughout the region in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, which may indicate a reduced capacity of local meadows to recover from environmental disturbances. The nutrient concentrations of seagrass tissue declined from moderate in 2011-2012 to poor in 2012-2013, which is indicative of poor water quality following repeated flood events in the region.

Fitzroy water quality trend

Graph data (.csv, 1KB)

Graph data (.csv, 1KB)

Last updated:
31 March, 2015
Last reviewed:
12 September, 2014

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