REEFsponsible and viable beef production

The project REEFsponsible and viable beef production aimed to assist enterprises in high erosion risk areas of the Upper Herbert catchment to address ground cover and sediment loss issues and improve grazing and business performance.


Through this project the northern DAF team aimed to identify extensive beef businesses within the Upper Herbert River catchment with a high risk of runoff and soil loss. The team worked closely with these enterprises to improve grazing and business performance. On-property infrastructure projects that enable improved grazing practices that directly impact on water quality was identified, and devolved grant funding made available. In the past devolved grants were allocated to producers based on applications and field inspections without fully taking into account the overall sediment sources across the whole catchment. This project included a more strategic approach to identify high erosion risk areas in the Upper Herbert grazing lands and target devolved grant funds to address ground cover and sediment loss issues.

Maintaining over 50% ground cover at the break of the season is the key management recommendation for reducing sediment loss across properties, particularly in riparian areas. Refining remote sensing technology to identify areas and properties with poor ground cover in this wet tropical region to target investment will play an important role into the future. Fixed monitoring points, used on six core properties to evaluate ground cover annually at the break of the season (November–December), recorded ground cover over 50% in all years on all properties despite on-going drought conditions. Improved grazing practices and ground cover management have been quickly adopted by ‘younger generation’ property managers when economic and environmental benefits are clearly evident.

The district contains numerous abandoned tin mine tailings dams that pose a serious threat to catchment water quality. During heavy wet seasons the old tailings dams overflow and discharge large quantities of fine suspended sediments. The REEFsponsible devolved grant projects included 18.2 km of riparian fencing and 17 off-stream waters across six properties and has resulted in grazing practise changes that would not have been implemented otherwise. The range of REEFsponsible projects, which also included wetland regeneration works, have improved grazing management practices and reduced sediment loss into the Herbert River catchments.

Beef industry forums, success stories, newsletter articles and electronic exposure featured viable and REEFsponsible grazing, herd and business management practices.

Remote sensing tools that accurately identify break of season ground cover were evaluated, particularly with the high canopy cover that features in the Upper Herbert dry grazing areas.

A Producer Peer Assessment Group (PPAG) assisted DAF staff to audit infrastructure projects, on-going grazing land management changes and break of season ground cover thresholds. The involvement of industry peers via the PPAG aimed to encourage producer participation in the project as well as enhance broader industry adoption of best practice business, herd and land management practices.

When: 1 November 2013 to 30 June 2016

Where: Upper Herbert River catchment, Queensland

Contact: Bernie English E:

Collaborators: Terrain NRM and Far North Queensland NRM

More information

To learn more, please download and read the final report (PDF, 184 KB)