This 3-year research project partnered with sugarcane farmers and James Cook University to assess the suitability of denitrification bioreactors as a dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) remediation technology in Wet Tropics conditions.
The trial included construction of four bioreactors on three operational sugarcane farms in the Russell River catchment. A water quality monitoring program measured DIN loads leaving natural and agricultural areas to establish a nitrogen budget for the Babinda Swamp Drainage Area. The efficacy and effectiveness in intercepting annual DIN load were based on measurement of nitrogen yield per hectare of sugarcane, nitrogen concentrations entering and exiting bioreactors, and total annual nitrogen load intercepted within an agricultural drain.
The trial included interviews with sugarcane farmers to understand how adoption of bioreactors might be encouraged following the trial. It further identified options to improve future bioreactor design.
The trial contributed to establishment of the Wet Tropics bioreactor node as part of the broader Bioreactors for GBR (B4GBR) network established by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) Bioreactor Advisory Group (BAG).
Queensland Government (Department of Environment and Science), Reef Water Quality Program – Great Barrier Reef Innovation Fund