By Growcom CEO Rachel Chambers

As a previous elected member, I can personally attest to Queenslanders’ long held dissatisfaction and negative attitudes towards government. It truly doesn’t matter what government is in power, or who is the representative at the time, there seems to be plenty of complaints, distrust and all-round discontent. In fact, one of the traits that seems to unite Australians is complaining about politicians.

This “cycle of distrust” requires a leap of faith from which to break free, as Emma Quilty, a postdoctoral fellow with Monash University called it.

Make no mistake, in horticulture, or more widely agriculture, this cycle of distrust, flows both ways.

Long marketed by activist groups as environmental vandals, agriculture has had to continually work hard to overcome its stigma of a seeming lack of care of environmental issues and lack of progress towards environmental sustainability.

Feel good aspirational targets masquerading as public policy are not the way forward, nor is a complacent grower.  Communication, education and a common-sense approach is required to ensure future prosperity.

Dual policy challenges of ensuring global food security whilst improving environmental performance will require cooperation and effort from government and growers alike. There can only be successful outcomes when there is a close working relationship between those who own and manage the land and government.

Recently growers in the Pumicestone Passage have embarked on this leap of faith with government. Initially they worked to understand each other’s viewpoints. Once this was achieved, they worked on data collection as a mutually agreed starting point. And finally, they worked on a solution that would yield the desired environmental results on the ground, yet not detrimentally impact results and productivity on farm. 

Together, they worked towards a win-win and came up with the solution of a bioreactor. These bioreactors remove nitrates from runoff and convert them to nitrogen gas (a gas which constitutes 79% of the atmosphere) thereby addressing the issue of nitrate transfer from farms to local waterways that lead to Moreton Bay. To date, 920m of an intended 3,000m of bioreactors have been installed on grower land at government cost, in order to benefit the environment without impacting productivity.

Henry Ford was onto something when he said, “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success”.

Here’s to more successes to come.