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Pesticide runoff from agricultural lands has been recognised as a serious threat to the health and productivity of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and is considered a priority pollutant for management in the GBR catchment area. While it is clear that some pesticides have higher runoff potential than others due to their individual physiochemical properties (e.g. half life, solubility), a rigorous mass balance approach of individual pesticide chemicals is required to better parameterise/validate predictive models such as Source Catchments and How Leaky? to improve the accuracy of load calculations. In addition, the benefits of promoted 'A class' practices to reduce the amount of pesticide runoff are largely unquantified. These links are critical in the management of application rates of certain pesticides in the GBR catchments and to inform/validate modelling within the Reef Rescue Water Quality (WQ) grants and monitoring and evaluation (P2R program) components.
Working with RRRD037, this project collaborated with key research scientists and extension officers from many organisations across the grazing and cropping industries to address these major unknowns of pesticide dynamics. In addition, the project value-added to several plot-scale trials within the P2R program to help evaluate the effectiveness of the Reef Rescue WQ grants program. It is envisioned that preliminary results from this project will be used to inform the current Reef Rescue WQ grants program, and priorities for Reef Rescue 2 and Reef Plan 2014.
- Knowledge of the half lives in water and exposure of key pesticides in the GBR catchment area and lagoon. These results will provide a critical measure of pesticide persistence in the GBR catchment area and lagoon, allowing for much improved risk assessments to be made on pesticide exposure in the GBR.
- Improved understanding for tebuthiuron management in grazing lands. The project will examine alternative practices for the application of tebuthiuron and will provide data on tebuthiuron half life, movement in soil, and off-site movement to better parameterise models used in the P2R program.
- Pesticides prevalence and distribution in relation to croplands. This project would involve the targeted sampling of water and sediments at reference sites and at lowland sites upstream and downstream of representative cropping areas throughout the Fitzroy catchment. The sampling surveys would be conducted over three wet season cycles. This will provide crucial data for the current P2R program activities including baseline data for reference sites. In addition, it will assist regional NRM groups and government agencies in identifying catchment hotspots for management practices and on-ground works aimed at improving GBR water quality.
- Improved understanding of pesticide management in bananas. The results from this study will provide the first field risk assessment approach for the banana industry and inform the Reef Rescue WQ grants program so that growers can make better decisions on their selection of pesticide products. This study will also provide valuable data to better parameterise modelling conducted under the P2R program component.
PROGRESS UPDATES for this project are summarised here
The studies have been completed in the Wet Tropics, Burdekin, Mackay Whitsunday and Fitzroy NRM regions.
Associated Reef Rescue R&D Research
Related External Research
- Monitoring -joint sites/objectives
- Modelling - input data requirements
- Pesticide persistence and breakdown in marine environment (Negri et al)
Publications from this project
The Research Outcomes Overview Report for both RRRD037 and RRRD038 is available for download via the Final Report Page. This report should be cited as:
- Lewis, S. , Brodie, J., Davis, A., Eaglesham, G., Elledge, A.E., Gallen, C., Paxman, C., Negri, A.P., Flores, F., Mercurio, P., Mueller, J., O'Brien, D., Packett, B., Rojas, S., Shaw, M., Silburn, M., Smith, R., Thornton, C.M., Turner, R., Warne, M. (2014). Pesticide dynamics in the Great Barrier Reef catchment and lagoon: Management practices (sugar, grazing, bananas) and risk assessments. Overview report for project number RRRD037 and RRRD038. Report to the Reef Rescue Water Quality Research & Development Program. Reef and Rainforest Research Centre Limited, Cairns (22pp.). ISBN 78-1-925088-24-3
Several Research Outcome Reports under both RRRD037 and RRRD038 are also available:
The Research Outcomes Report for RRRD038: Herbicide persistence in the marine environment is available for download via the Final Report Page. This report should be cited as:
The Research Outcomes Report for RRRD038: Dissolved and particulate herbicide transport in central Great Barrier Reef catchments is available for download via the Final Report Page. This report should be cited as:
The Research Outcomes Report for RRRD038: Tebuthiuron management in grazing Lands is available for download via the Final Report Page. This report should be cited as:
The Research Outcomes Report for RRRD038: Herbicide degradation on Queensland cropping soils and crop residues is available for download via the Final Report Page. This report should be cited as:
Several presentations at Reef Rescue R&D forums have summarised the projects results: visit the Events page.
Project Fact Sheets:
Tebuthiuron management in grazing lands3.11 MB
- van Dam, J.W., Negri, A.P., Mueller, J.F., Altenburger, R., Uthicke, S., 2012. Additive pressures of elevated sea surface temperatures and herbicides on symbiont-bearing foraminifera. PLoS ONE 7(3), e33900.
- van Dam, J.W., Negri, A.P., Mueller, J.F., Uthicke, S., 2012. Symbiont-specific responses in foraminifera to the herbicide diuron. Marine Pollution Bulletin online first.
- Botté, E.S., Jerry, D.R., Codi King, S., Smith-Keune, C., Negri, A.P., 2012. Effects of chlorpyrifos on cholinesterase activity and stress markers in the tropical reef fish Acanthochromis polyacanthus. Marine Pollution Bulletin online first.
- Magnusson, M., Heimann, K., Ridd, M., Negri, A.P., 2012. Chronic herbicide exposures affect the sensitivity and community structure of tropical benthic microalgae. Marine Pollution Bulletin online first.
- Davis, A.M., Thorburn, P.J., Lewis, S.E., Bainbridge, Z.T., Attard, S.J., Milla, R., Brodie, J.E. 2012. Herbicide run-off dynamics of furrow irrigated sugarcane farms and associated drainage systems on the Burdekin River Floodplain, north-eastern Australia. Agriculture, Ecosystems and the Environment.
- Davis, A.M., Lewis, S.E., Bainbridge, Z.T., Brodie, J.E., Glendenning, L., Turner, R. 2012. Dynamics of herbicide transport and partitioning under event flow conditions in the lower Burdekin region, Australia. Marine Pollution Bulletin. Online. doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2011.08.025
- Lewis, S.E., Schaffelke, B., Shaw, M., Bainbridge, Z.T., Rohde, K.W., Kennedy, K.E., Davis, A.M., Masters, B.L., Devlin, M.J., Mueller, J.F. Brodie, J.E. 2012. Assessing the risks of PSII herbicide exposure to the Great Barrier Reef. Marine Pollution Bulletin.
- Lewis, S.E. Smith, R. Brodie, J.E. Bainbridge, Z.T. Davis, A.M. Turner, R. 2012. Using monitoring data to model herbicides exported to the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. In Chan, F., Marinova, D. and Anderssen, R.S. (eds) MODSIM2011, 19th International Congress on Modelling and Simulation. Modelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand, December 2011, pp. 2051-2056. ISBN: 978-0-9872143-1-7. www.mssanz.org.au/modsim2011/E5/lewis.pdf
- Negri, A.P., Flores, F., Röthig, T., Uthicke, S. 2011. Herbicides increase the vulnerability of corals to rising sea surface temperature. Limnology and Oceanography 56, 471-485.
- van Dam, J.W., Negri, A.P., Uthicke, S., Mueller, J.F., 2011. Chemical pollution on coral reefs: exposure and ecological effects. In: Sanchez-Bayo, F., van den Brink, P.J., Mann, R.M. (Eds.), Ecological Impact of Toxic Chemicals. Bentham Science Publishers Ltd.
- van Dam, J.W., Negri, A.P., Mueller, J.F., Uthicke, S. in press. Symbiont-specific responses in foraminifera to the herbicide diuron. Marine Pollution Bulletin.