Grower participation in Growcom’s Hort360 Reef Certification program is ramping up with a growing number of horticulture producers across the Great Barrier Reef catchment becoming Reef Certified this year.   

Reef Certification is a voluntary and credible pathway for the horticulture industry to demonstrate environmental stewardship and best practice in the Great Barrier Reef catchment. 

Whilst some growers see the reason for becoming certified as being proactive in regard to the introduction of the Reef protection regulations, others consider the program an opportunity to give their farming practices a health checkup. 

Henrik Christiansen, Managing Director of MacField Farms, was the first horticulture grower to become Reef Certified in the Fitzroy River Basin. Located on the Fitzroy River, near Rockhampton, he considers the Reef Certification process to be a natural business progression that aligns with their core farming values.  

“Using Hort360 has been a tool for us to assess where we’re at and identify what we need to improve to ensure best practice. Reef Certification is assurance for us that we’re contributing to improvements of the Reef,” Mr Christiansen said. 

The Zunker and Attard families in Bundaberg also recently attained Reef Certification, becoming the first growers in the Burnett-Mary region of the Great Barrier Reef catchment to receive accreditation. Growing a combination of macadamias, sweet potatoes, and small crops, the Zunkers and Attards considered Reef Certification to be an opportunity to demonstrate their farming practices were at minimum what would be described as best practice.  

“When you operate at best practice, it is a win-win for you, the industry and the environment,” Annie Attard, Managing Director of Attard Family Farms said. 

“We have beautiful grassy inter-rows, high levels of organic matter in the tree lines, headlands and tail-water dams to catch any run-off, and we use fertigation for 90 per cent of nutrient applications – there are no losses.” 

The Attard’s are not alone in their commitment to best practice; Windhum Farms proprietors Darren and Linda Zunker have become certified for both their macadamia orchard, as well as their sweet potatoes.  

“The Reef Certification process has been an opportunity for us to get some of our monitoring and calibration practices, as well as our record keeping, automated. It’s actually helped us see what improvements we’re making, and that’s part of the fabric of our family business; continuous improvement,” Emily Zunker said. 

Growcom is committed to assisting the industry demonstrate its stewardship for the Great Barrier Reef wetland, coastal and marine ecosystems.  

Hort360 GBR is funded by the Queensland Government’s Reef Water Quality Program and is a free program for all commercial horticulture growers. Facilitators are based in Bundaberg, Bowen, and Mareeba to assist Reef catchment growers be involved in Hort360.   

Participation can be one-on-one, online or as a small group, with several growers in the Fitzroy and Burnett-Mary regions working together through the Reef Certification process. 

Contact your local Hort360 Facilitator today. 

  • Michelle Haase (Southern GBR) 0428 586 890 
  • Eilis Walker (Central GBR) 0477 411 464 
  • Lindsay Allen (Northern GBR) 0477 588 677