Home' Ausmarine : January 2011 Contents Cane farmers don't kill reefs
FROM: Glenn Winsen
I am writing in reply to Steven Macdonald's letter in
Ausmarine, November 2010, his claims are environmental
propaganda and simply not true.
There are at least three professors who don't rely on
government funding, specialists in their field with well over 100
years experience between them, who will state Mr Macdonald's
claims are a myth.
I have worked on many cane farms in the Herbert Valley area
for years and the reality is that the cane farmers do not use excess
fertilizer and chemicals and then allow it to wash away into the
river system as it is far too expensive. They have it down pat and
use just enough to do the job.
One farm I worked on had deep drains surrounding
its paddocks and these drains retained some water permanently.
The fish life was abundant. The CSIRO monitored these
drains over a three-year period and found no residue of chemical
In the Macknade area Landcare, farmers, district citizens,
school children, etc., with the support from the local council and
government funding, created a man-made wetland which has
won numerous awards. Three major cane farms drain into this
wetland which has ducks, ducklings, magpie geese, all sorts of
waterfowl, fish including barramundi and crocodiles. If fertilizer
and chemicals were flowing as suggested by the so-called experts,
how come these wetlands have so much life?
In any event, if excess fertilizer was escaping the farm, why
then are the headlands that border the paddocks yellow and dying
instead of green and lush? These headlands are a "buffer zone" as
such. Regarding chemical pollution, rain water would have to
dilute it further to wash it into the drains where it becomes diluted
yet further. The drains then flow into the river system and it is
further diluted. At this stage, it would not kill a maiden hair fern.
And, if it is cited as responsible for killing reefs, this would be
unbelievable as it would once again have to be further diluted in
the vast ocean to do so.
To illustrate this, anyone could carry out an experiment at home
by diluting a teaspoon of sugar into a bucket of water. One would
definitely not taste the sugar. Then pour the bucket of water
solution into a wheelie bin and fill to the brim with water. Only the
most sophisticated modern-day apparatus would detect the sugar.
Silt and nutrient deposits, along with fish kills, happen all the
way up the Queensland coast, right up to Cape York, even where
there is no farming or grazing in the adjacent catchment. Silt and
nutrients have been deposited over thousands of years and not
from modem day run off.
Fish kills are caused by rotten vegetation entering the
waterways, depriving the fish of their oxygen supply, certainly not
from farmers' chemicals and fertilizer.
Finally, 95 percent of the sugar cane farms in the Herbert Valley
area are now harvested green, leaving a trash blanket covering the
paddock to reduce soil erosion.
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January 2011 AUSMARINE
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