The Bowen Gumlu Agricultural District is presently Australia’s largest winter vegetation production area (Bowen Gumlu Growers Assocation Inc., 2016). Unlike the Lower Burdekin, additional water is not supplied to the growing area and instead water is harvested during flow events and also from local groundwater systems. Despite limited availability and quality of water, the district has grown approximately 20 per cent in a decade due to the adoption of new farm management opportunities and stewardship for the sustainability of natural resources (Mullins, 2016). Water use is approximately two megalitres per hectare compared to 10-12 megalitres per hectare in the Lower Burdekin area primarily due to water availability. Best management irrigation practices in this region include determining crop water use, drip systems, fertigation, as well as evaporation reduction methods.
As mentioned in the Lower Burdekin catchment ground and surface water interaction issues section, any consideration to expand water supply infrastructure and agriculture must assess and mitigate potential increases in sediment and nutrient loads onto the GBR that would undo achievements made since Reef Plan 2009 initiatives.
Substantial investment has been made to better understand local and regional water resources, including their quality, quantity, demand, supply and interactions with environmental processes. Continued coordinated effort is still needed however, to improve management practices that deliver sustainable water resources that are efficiently used and delivered. As innovative technologies and improved water management practices become more affordable, a whole-of-community effort at a landscape scale could ensure the future sustainability of our water resources (Refer to the Burdekin WQIP for further information).