Cubbie Ag management aims to set high standards with respect to environmental sustainability in irrigated agriculture production and while this commenced with the planning phase, management still recognises the potential for improvement in their operation. This included the appointment of Dr Lee Benson of EM (Ecology Management) Pty Ltd to review the design and operation of the property and to develop a “Sustainability Plan”. Dr Benson's review recognised the following positive features of Cubbie Station's farm plan.
The farm plan incorporated the two primary floodways, Chinaman Ck and Doctor's Ck, open. These are very important floodways because they are activated at relatively low flows and feed large areas of downstream floodplain. The floodways commence upstream of Cubbie's intakes so filling of Cubbie's storages does not impact on these flows.
Besides the floodplains, the rivers that flow around and within Cubbie are generally bordered by generous buffer zones and will not be farmed. One of the major problems elsewhere in Australia has been clearing of land right up to the rivers edge.
Remnant vegetation is at 35% on Cubbie Ag properties.
Cubbie Ag actively pursues maximum water use efficiency through building storages as deep as permitted by law and amalgamating storages as the volume decreases, thereby reducing evaporative loss and retaining the maximum volume of water resources to increase production.
Cubbie Ag maintains the highest level of compliance with the Cotton Australia Best Practice Manual, which covers all aspects of cotton production.
Flood harvesting is a potentially more environmentally friendly means of water capture than the traditional headwater storage/run-of-river regulated supply system.
The irrigation developments are designed to ensure no discharge of tail water or storm water run off. This means that top soil or any contaminants that do find their way into surface waters on the farm stay on the farm.
Monitoring, or the continuous recording of relevant data, is a vital component of pro-active management. The company is an active member of the Smartrivers group, an irrigation industry based community group in the Lower Balonne, and contributes toward monitoring of the aquatic environments of the region. In 2002 we commenced the monitoring of wetlands within their boundaries and these sites have since been incorporated within the Smartrivers program. Sampling is undertaken twice per year and includes water quality, macroinvertebrates and fish.
Cubbie Ag is pro-active in investigating potential salinity and soil condition issues, undertaking their own field specific EM surveys and installing 44 piezometers in order to allow monitoring of groundwater levels. The monitoring and data review are supervised by recognised authorities Dr Pat Hulme and Dr Rick Evans.
In summary, Cubbie Ag is serious about environmental management. Cubbie Ag management believe that irrigated agriculture and a viable environment can co-exist in a sustainable manner and they have designed and manage their properties in order to achieve this.