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sustainable agricultural systems. The economics of improving water quality in the Gordonstone Creek Catchment Fred Chudleigh DPI &F James Gaffney CQU Chris Chilcott DPI &F. The Fitzroy Catchment. Reef Water Quality Protection Plan (Great Barrier Marine Park Authority 2001).

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sustainable agricultural systems

The economics of improving water quality in the Gordonstone Creek Catchment

Fred Chudleigh DPI &F

James Gaffney CQU

Chris Chilcott DPI &F

reef water quality protection plan great barrier marine park authority 2001
Reef Water Quality Protection Plan(Great Barrier Marine Park Authority 2001)
  • Initially seeks
    • A 50% reduction in sediment
    • A 50% reduction in phosphorus, and
    • A 33% reduction in nitrogen pollutants

by 2011

Productivity Commission 2003, “Industries, Land Use and Water Quality in the Great Barrier Reef Catchment, Research Report, Canberra”.
  • Primary cause of the pollution problem
    • Terrestrial runoff (non-point, diffuse pollution)
    • Cattle grazing and cropping the most significant contributors to diffuse pollutant discharges into the Great Barrier Reef Lagoon

45% of GBR beef

43% of GBR crops (non sugar)

45% of GBR coal


20% of GBR workforce


22% of sediments

17% of nitrogen

19.5% of phosphorus

That reach the Great Barrier Reef Lagoon

The Fitzroy River catchment 14.2 million hectares - 8% of Queensland- 35% of the catchment area that flows into the Great Barrier Reef lagoon

sediment and land use in the gordonstone creek catchment
Sediment and land use in the Gordonstone Creek Catchment
  • 280 km2 in area
  • Instrumented with water quality equipment (Dougall et al., 2004)
  • Pollutants of sediment, nutrient & pesticide loads monitored and measured
  • At scales from 15 hectares up to 28,000 hectares

The Cover Story

February 2000





April 2000

50 km2

Gregory Hwy Site

% Stubble Cover

Millar, Dougall, Rohde and Carroll, (NR&M, 2000)

impact of ground cover on event mean sediment concentration for the gordonstone creek catchment
Impact of ground cover on event mean sediment concentration for the Gordonstone Creek catchment

(Carroll et al 2004)

catchment modelling and sediment loads1
Catchment modelling and sediment loads
  • Catchment modelling is a new science
  • Sediment and sources not readily linked within the catchment
  • Sediment sources may be managed through
    • Site specific treatment
      • - some difficulty in knowing which site to treat or the impact on overall sediment levels of treatment at any particular site
    • Landscape or catchment wide treatments
      • - requires land use change across the catchment
  • In this analysis we estimate the opportunity costs at the property level of a landscape or catchment wide treatment applied to manage soil loss
  • modelled soil loss and productivity using bio-physical production models (APSIM & GRASP) for the Capella climate (110 years)
  • Chose 3 production scenarios from the modelled outputs to represent typical farming systems in the catchment
      • Cropping
      • Grazing
      • Grazing with a water quality constraint
  • Applied the bio-physical outputs to economic models (2000 ha cropping property “at Capella”)
property productivity
Property productivity


Grazing with a water quality constraint

grazing trial results agree with the model
Grazing trial results agree with the model

Cumulative surface soil movement and beef production over 7 years at (a) the ironbark site and (b) the poplar box site, as grazing pressure increased from zero to high.

Richard Silcock, Trevor Hall, Paul Jones & David Waters (2005)

  • There is a very close relationship between productivity and profitability within any broadacre agricultural investment
  • Any constraint to productivity across a property will significantly impact on profitability
  • Managing at the catchment or landscape scale to control the sources of diffuse pollutants will cause rural investors to incur significant opportunity costs
  • Combining bio-physical models with economic models allows estimates of the opportunity costs incurred at the property level to be more accurately estimated