The cane industry has made huge shifts in practices over the last few years. These Water Quality Incentive Grants are for Wet Tropics sugar cane growers and contractors who are looking for ways to continue improving their business, and at the same time improve the quality of water that flows to the reef. A total of $1.5 million in grants is available.

The grants are part of the Australian Government’s Reef Trust Phase III program to reduce nutrient, pesticide and sediment losses from farms across the state.

From this program, $45.6 million is being provided to the Reef Alliance, which is led by Queensland Farmers’ Federation and includes CANEGROWERS and regional bodies including Terrain NRM. The role of the Reef Alliance is to coordinate the program across most of the Great Barrier Reef catchments. Of the $45.6 million, just over $9 million is allocated to the Wet Tropics region.

The Wet Tropics Sugar Industry Partnership (WTSIP) is responsible for delivering the Reef Trust III program in this region, and for supporting progress towards Wet Tropics cane targets. WTSIP is a partnership of 15 organisations including industry bodies, productivity boards, mills, natural resource management and government. The partners are working together to ensure that investment coming into the region benefits growers as well as reef water quality.

The overall focus of Reef Trust III is industry-led extension and training provided through WTSIP Extension Officers, with some direct financial support provided to growers through these grants. To find out who your local Extension Officer is go to


  • Provide financial assistance to growers adopting the practices outlined in the ‘Moderate to Low Risk’ and Lowest Risk’ columns of the Paddock to Reef Sugarcane Water Quality Risk (SWQRF), as well as those referred to in the associated benchmarking questions. For details of SWQRF, see Appendix 1.
  • Assist growers to implement integrated farming systems based on the practices outlined as above, by overcoming the critical limiting factors that are preventing adoption of such systems.
  • Achieve best value for money by investing in prioritised practices. These have been prioritised based on those offering most benefit for both growers and water quality, area of impact, cost and the location in the region where the maximum water quality benefit can be achieved.


  • Round 1 applications open: 7 August 2017
  • Register of interest closes: 28 August 2017 - Extended to 4 September 2017
  • Application period closes: 22 September 2017
  • Contracts sent to successful applicants: 31 October
  • Projects must be completed by: 30 May 2019
  • Round 2 open: Early 2018


  1. Register your interest by 28 August 2017. (Extended to 4 September 2017)
  2. You will be contacted by a WTSIP Extension Officer to help with the mandatory benchmarking and mapping and advise you on the application process. The benchmarking will help you identify the best type of projects for your operation.
  3. Complete Smartcane BMP self-assessment, if you have not already done so. Go to This will also will help you identify the best type of projects for your operation.
  4. Download and/or print off the sample application form to help you understand what information to gather and draft your responses. Note you need to use the online form but the sample form is just to help you understand what is required. See APPENDIX 2 - How to fill in the application form + sample form
  5. Submit your application using the online form, by 22 September 2017. Go to
  6. A panel of technical experts and industry people will assess the applications.
  7. If your project is successful you will be notified and sent a contract by 31 October 2017.
  8. Submit your signed contract and invoice to trigger your first payment (40%).
  9. Become Smartcane accredited.
  10. Develop a Nutrient Management Plan with a WTSIP Extension Officer
  11. Manage and complete the project in line with the contract by 30 May 2019.
  12. At the end of the project, a senior WTSIP Extension Officer will inspect the project. If they are satisfied, they will sign off on your final report.
  13. Submit your final report to receive your final payment (60%).
  14. Follow up discussions with a WTSIP Extension Officer before the end of 2019.


To apply for a grant, you must:

  • Have an ABN.
  • Be regarded as a primary producer for taxation purposes and own or manage a cane-growing property within one of the major Wet Tropics river catchments (Daintree, Mossman, Barron, Mulgrave, Russell, Johnstone, Tully, Murray, Herbert), OR be a contractor or industry service-provider servicing such managers.
  • Be able to contribute a 50% co-investment for all projects.
  • Complete Smartcane BMP self-assessment.
  • Complete benchmarking and mapping with a WTSIP extension officer.
  • Have met all obligations for any projects previously funded by reef programs.


  • Projects that align with:
    • The ‘Moderate to Low Risk’ and ‘Lowest Risk’ columns of the Paddock to Reef Sugarcane Water Quality Risk Framework. (Appendix 1.)
    • The associated Paddock to Reef benchmarking questions. Your WTSIP Extension Officer will supply and discuss these with you.
    • A Wet Tropics Investment Prioritisation process undertaken by WTSIP
      The resulting eligible project types are summarised in the table below.
  • Projects that achieve a full change from an existing practice to a new, higher-level practice. A WTSIP Extension Officer will take you through a benchmarking exercise that will show this and help you develop a suitable project.
  • Projects that address the most important priorities identified on your property.
  • Projects that assess and fix soil constraints that limit crop growth, leading to low nutrient use efficiency and poor water quality outcomes. These projects will be considered where it can be demonstrated that this will result in a better matching of crop inputs to crop demand.

Wet Tropics Priority Practices Summary

SWQRF categoryPriority Practice
SoilMatching row widths to harvester and haulouts (at ≥1.8m). Includes widening of equipment.
GPS - Harvesting fleet, if farms transitioning to ≥1.8m.
GPS - farm machinery, if transitioning to ≥1.8m.
Zero tillage planting.
Zero tillage legumes.
NutrientsNutrient application based on 6ES using site specific information (e.g. yield history, yield-mapping and mapping/ fixing of yield constraints) .
Zonal application of mill products.
Sub-surface fertiliser placement.
HerbicidesBanding of residual herbicides & inter-rows managed with Knockdowns.
WaterIntegrated farm drainage.
Irrigation scheduling.
Grassed waterways /drains.
Sediment/ nutrient traps.


Funding will not be provided for:

  • Upgrades to existing equipment that do not result in a practice change.
  • Replacement of existing old equipment.
  • Purchase of tractors, farm vehicles or fuel.
  • High-rise spray machines.
  • Insecticide equipment (e.g. confidor tanks).
  • Salaries.
  • Operating and maintenance that are normal responsibilities for managing a property.
  • Activities that are required by law, such as managing or controlling certain weeds or pests.
  • The landholder’s time (include this as an in-kind contribution).
  • The landholder’s machinery (include this as an in-kind contribution).
  • Conventional soil improvement activities such as ‘maintenance’ application of lime and/or gypsum and other conventional contracted services.


Water Quality Grant CategoryGrant purposeGrant amount
Single farmFor individual land managers to implement improved land management practicesUp to $25,000
Multiple farmFor collaborative projects where groups of independent land managers or a contractor and land managers implement improved land management practicesUp to $80,000
Mill area/districtFor larger scale collaborative projects within a mill area or district, to implement improved land management practices Up to $100,000

Note: Grants of more than $40,000 must be approved by the Australian Government.

What are multi-farm projects?

Projects involving two or more independent farming entities who will make practice changes on a number of farms owned and managed by different people.

All project partners must sign the application and contract. All partners must also complete the benchmarking and mapping exercise and complete Smartcane BMP self-assessment. One person is to be nominated as the main point of contact on behalf of the group. They will be responsible for receiving all correspondence, ensuring everyone provides their reporting information and receiving the funds on behalf of the group.

Contractors and service providers?

Contractors and service providers who implement changes on other people’s properties, or provide services to a number of growers, should apply for a multiple farm project. That Contractor or Service Provider will be the primary applicant and can decide how many growers to nominate for the project. In order for that project to claim an ‘area of impact' however, all the managers of properties that make up that area have to be formal partners who will sign the contract, undertake the benchmarking and mapping exercise and complete Smartcane BMP self-assessment.

What are district-scale projects?

Similar to multi-farm but on a larger scale involving many growers in a mill-area, district or sub-district. These require a high level of organisation. We recommend discussing these projects with an Extension Officer and grants administrators as soon as possible.


A selection panel made up of technical experts and industry people will assess applications against the weighted criteria below:

  • The ranking of the priority practice applied for.
  • Value for money (cost/area of impact/level of landholder contribution).
  • Justification for the project (incl. alignment with benchmarking and Smartcane BMP self-assessment), and quality of supporting information.
  • Location of the project within the region.

The panel may seek specialist external advice if required. The decision of the panel will be final and the degree of feedback on unsuccessful applications will be at the panel’s discretion.


Read the guidelines

These guidelines are your main source of information. Your application must meet all the requirements in these guidelines so please read them carefully before contacting a WTSIP Extension Officer, registering your interest or applying for a grant. If you have any queries regarding the guidelines contact Bruce Corcoran on or 0438 720 179.

Register your interest

If you are interested in applying for a project grant, you must register your interest by 28 August 2017 (extended to 4 September 2017). You can do this by entering your details in a simple online form. A WTSIP Extension Officer can help if necessary.

You will be asked to provide the following details:

  • Name, address and contact details (inc. a reliable email address)
  • Area of interest
  • Major catchment
  • Which program you are interested in (Reef Trust 3)
  • If you are applying for a Single, multi-farm or district-scale project

Please note: The Register of Interest form is used for all enquiries regarding programs and services provided by WTSIP and Terrain. Once you tick the box for Reef Trust 3 it will automatically provide information for you as a RT3 grant applicant.

Complete benchmarking and mapping

After registering your interest, a WTSIP Extension Officer will contact you to complete the benchmarking and mapping.

Benchmarking uses a series of questions to determine how you are currently farming and where your current practices sit in relation to the Sugarcane Water Quality Risk Framework.

Detailed mapping of your project is also required so that the type, area and location of change achieved by your project can be accurately assessed and reported.

Complete Smartcane BMP self-assessment

This will also help identify the best types of water quality projects for your farm. Go to to find out more or contact your local CANEGROWERS office.

If you are a contractor or service provider organising a multi-farm project and do not farm cane yourself, you will not be able to complete the benchmarking, mapping or Smartcane BMP self-assessment. However, all the growers taking part in your project must complete them.

Submit your application online

Go to to submit your grant application by 22 September 2017.

You will need a reliable email address. If this is not possible, contact a WTSIP Extension Officer. Instructions on how to access and use the online application form will be sent to you after you register your interest. Once you start your application, you will be able to stop, save and resume your application at any stage during the application period.

A sample of the application is available in Appendix 2 . We have provided this to help you prepare and draft your responses.

A WTSIP Extension Officer will help you with your online application if requested. However, it is your responsibility to provide the requested information at the standard of quality that you wish your project to be assessed on.


If you are successful, you will enter into a contract with Terrain NRM on behalf of WTSIP.
You will receive a contract, a cover letter outlining the contract terms and a tax invoice template. The primary applicant in a multi-farm project will receive the documents and they will be responsible for making sure all the applicants sign the agreement.

You will receive your first payment after you return the signed contract.
The terms within this project agreement are in line with the Australian Government’s funding requirements.

By signing the contract, you will be obligated to:

  • Obtain any relevant consents, approvals or permits.
  • Use the funds only for the purchase of the goods or services shown in the contract.
  • Provide itemised expenditure on the project inc. in-kind and cash contributions.
  • Have a Nutrient Management Plan approved by WTSIP Extension Officer.
  • Become Smartcane BMP accredited by the end of project.
  • Provide after photos of the funded project sites or equipment.
  • Provide reports, documents, maps, software or other documentation funded by the project.
  • Complete the project by the contracted date. If this is not possible due to unforeseen circumstances, you must return the first payment. No extensions will be approved beyond the contract expiry date.
  • Agree to meet with a WTSIP Extension Officer within six months of the end of the project to record the practical implementation and outcomes of the project.
  • Make project sites available for demonstrations to other landholders for up to 18 months (by arrangement).
  • Provide access to the project site to WTSIP staff and/or agents for monitoring and evaluation.
  • Refund the proceeds of the sale of any machinery or equipment that you bought with the project funds within three years of signing your contract.
  • Be aware that WTSIP staff may conduct an audit within 3 years of the end of your project.


After signing the contract, you will be responsible for managing all aspects of the project. This includes completing a progress report and final report. For multi-farm/contractor projects, it is the primary applicant’s responsibility to ensure that all the partner applicants meet their obligations. The Project Plan developed during your application should help with managing tasks and timelines.

Please note:

  • Significant changes to your project will not be considered unless they are due to legitimate and unforeseeable circumstances. Requests must be submitted in writing and outline the changes, including any adjustment to the approved cash/in-kind components. The co-contribution must remain at least 50% of the budget.
  • The specifications of any equipment or works requested as a variation, must be equal to or higher than the original and the cost must be equal to or lower than the original.
  • If the changes are approved, you will receive a formal variation of the signed contract.


You must complete a final report (template provided), by the contract expiry date that includes:

  • Confirmation of full completion of the contracted deliverables due by 30 May 2019.
  • After photos that clearly show the completed project.
  • An Expenditure Report (template provided).

Expenditure report

The expenditure report details expenses incurred by the project. You must only use the funds provided to you for the purchase of the goods or services shown in the contract. The amounts spent on these items will need to align, ‘within reason’, with the budget breakdown in your application. See appendix 3 for more details.

  • ‘Within reason’ means that minor variations, for example, one component costing slightly more and another slightly less, but with both maintaining their original specifications, will be accommodated.
  • Significant variations, for example higher costs for one component being compensated for by not completing another project task or by purchasing another component of inferior specifications to the original, will not be accepted.
  • Any extra project costs resulting from un-approved variations, changes in prices from suppliers or from general over-expenditure, are to be borne by you.
  • Cash and in-kind contributions can be higher than originally stipulated, but not lower.


When you have completed the project, a Nutrient Management Plan, Smartcane BMP Accreditation and the final report, a senior WTSIP extension representative will arrange an inspection. If satisfied with the project, they will sign-off on the final report. You can then submit the final report and receive final payment.

Any un-approved project changes that become apparent at this stage, other than those ‘within reason’ as explained above, will result in non-approval for final payment.


APPENDIX 1 - Reef Plan Paddock to Reef Water Quality Risk Framework

APPENDIX 2 - How to fill in the application form + sample form

APPENDIX 3 - Important Budget Information

APPENDIX 4 - Cane equipment specifications

APPENDIX 5 - Advice for drainage projects


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