Quantifying and managing sources of sediments and nutrients in low-lying canelands : Project no CLW007 - final report
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Queensland’s north-east coast are used for sugar production. Various studies investigating sediment discharge from catchments where sugar is an important land use have demonstrated that sediment export from cane lands often continues to be higher than from adjacent forested areas or other land uses. The main concern with the export of sediments is the loss of associated nutrients, in particular forms of phosphorus and nitrogen bound to the fine sediment fractions (suspended sediments), and the potential harm these materials might cause in rivers, wetlands and near shore marine ecosystems. Many growers are aware of these issues and have proactively engaged in a variety of activities and practices to reduce the likelihood of such environmental impacts, and the widespread adoption of trash blanket harvesting is testimony to this. However, there is still a lack of understanding on the exact amounts and sources of sediments and nutrients leaving cane lands. More importantly, growers lack information on practical solutions to reducing sediment export and where to target the most appropriate sediment control measures. In response, SRDC funded Project CLW007 with the aim to develop a robust understanding of sediment sources, transport pathways and sinks as the means to better target cane land management towards reducing sediment export. The approach chosen was to develop a sediment budget for representative areas of low-lying cane lands in the Herbert district. This approach has particular advantages for resource management purposes as it ensures that all components in a catchment sediment transport system are examined, so that important sediment sources and transport processes can be identified and management appropriately targeted. The bulk of the study was conducted in a 536 ha large subcatchment of Ripple Creek in the Lower Herbert, comprising 320 ha of low-lying floodplain soils under sugar and 216 ha of forested uplands. A range of monitoring methods were developed and implemented in order to capture the breadth of processes and to employ the most appropriate methods in each individual situation and best suited to each scale of measurement
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