Horticultural growers in Reef catchments are set to benefit from a renewed collaboration between Growcom and the Queensland Department of Environment and Science. 

Growcom will receive $3.3 million over four years to deliver the second phase of the successful Hort360 Great Barrier Reef program (Hort360 GBR) which will focus on boosting the productivity and profitability of horticultural growers. 

A key component of phase one of the project was the voluntary uptake of Hort360 Reef Certification enabling industry to demonstrate best practice. The successful uptake of Reef Certification resulted in horticulture Reef regulations being deferred through to December 2024. 

Hort360 Manager Scott Wallace said with further grower support and adoption of Hort360 Reef Certification Growcom is seeking to clearly demonstrate that Reef regulations need not be applied to horticulture. 

Phase two of the project will continue to focus on assisting growers and industry to address environmental impacts and agricultural runoff from farmland entering the Great Barrier Reef lagoon. 

“Growcom has identified through existing Hort360 data, that extension, training and technical support can reduce risks and optimise opportunities to provide lasting and positive outcomes to water quality in the Great Barrier Reef lagoon,” Mr Wallace said. 

“This program will further develop best management practice in Reef catchments, incorporating improved standards through good scientific, education and facilitation practices.” 

Queensland Fruit & Vegetable Growers CEO Rachel Chambers said natural resource management is an important issue for horticultural growers with much of Queensland’s fruit, vegetable, and nut production close to sensitive environments such as the Great Barrier Reef. 

“We are pleased the Queensland Government is taking a holistic approach rather than a regulatory approach, as supporting growers to understand how their practices may impact the Reef and thereby be able to improve these practices, will offer greater long-term outcomes.” 

The Hort360 Great Barrier Reef program is funded through to June 2026.