Last updated 3 February 2021.
Related articles on Reef regulations.

From 1 December 2019, records detailing the date, location and application rate of any agricultural chemical or fertiliser used on grazing land needs to be made within three days of application.

If you are already keeping records of agricultural chemicals used on grazing areas for livestock production assurance or other programs, these are sufficient for reef regulation requirements. Record-keeping is required by all commercial beef-cattle graziers across five reef catchments, excluding Cape York.

Records are to be kept for six years and made available for inspection by an authorised compliance officer from the Queensland Department of Environment and Science. Any associated purchase invoices also need to be kept.

More information:


What are the requirements?

The requirements under the new reef protection regulations are:

  • Record keeping- all graziers, sugarcane and banana producers in the Wet Tropics, Burdekin, Mackay Whitsunday, Fitzroy and Burnett Mary regions must keep records from 1 December 2019 and all grains and horticulture producers may require records from 1 December 2022. From 1 December 2019, agricultural advisers must also keep records.
  • Minimum practice agricultural standards- all producers in the Wet Tropics, Burdekin, Mackay Whitsunday, Fitzroy and Burnett Mary regions must comply with industry-specific minimum practice agricultural standards (grazingsugarcanebananas) as these are applied to each region over the next three years.
  • Farm nitrogen and phosphorus budget(sugarcane only) - all sugarcane producers in the Wet Tropics, Burdekin and Mackay Whitsunday regions must implement a farm nitrogen and phosphorus budget from 2021 and then in the Fitzroy and Burnett Mary regions from 2022.
  • New or expanded cropping and horticulture activities- all new or expanded cropping and horticulture activities in any Reef region on more than five hectares that do not meet the cropping history test will require an environmental authority (permit), subject to farm design standards, from 1 June 2021.
  • New, expanded or intensified industrial development - all regulated industrial land use activities in any Reef region must meet new discharge standards to ensure there is no increase in nutrient or sediment pollutant loads from 1 June 2021.

Records need to be kept to demonstrate activities are being undertaken on the property in accordance with the minimum agricultural practice standards. The government has committed to not commencing the regulation to acquire specific agricultural data such as data about fertiliser and chemical use, soil testing and crop yield.

What are the requirements for new or expanded cropping and horticulture?

From 1 June 2021, new or expanded commercial cropping and horticulture activities in the Cape York, Wet Tropics, Burdekin, Mackay Whitsunday, Fitzroy and Burnett Mary regions on more than five hectares without a cropping history will require an environmental authority (permit) subject to farm design standards, before the activity or any work takes place. 

A cropping history is when cropping or horticulture activities have occurred during three out of the last 10 years (with at least one of the years being in the last five years). For more detailed information on the cropping history test, producers should ensure they refer to the new or expanded cropping information online. 

View new or expanded cropping information online for a full description of the requirements. 

What do the new regulations mean for graziers?

Complete this form if you would like to receive an information pack by email or post. You can also choose to receive regular updates relating to the regulations.

View the full description of the requirements for grazing.

What do the new regulations mean for ongoing grains and horticulture producers?

Minimum practice agricultural standards for ongoing, commercial grains, crop, and horticulture production have not yet been developed as they will not come into effect for three years.

The minimum practice agricultural standards will be developed by the Department of Environment and Science in consultation with industry. Draft standards will be released for public consultation for a statutory period of at least 30 business days under section 318A of the Environmental Protection Act 1994.

The public consultation period will be advertised on the Queensland Government’s Get Involved website at and at

Support and assistance for agricultural producers

The Queensland Reef Water Quality Program funds the sugarcane, banana and horticulture best management practice programs and a number of other projects and initiatives to support agriculture and improve the quality of water entering waterways.

The Farming in Reef Catchments Rebate Scheme provides a one-off rebate of up to $1,000 to eligible commercial agricultural producers in reef regions. The rebate is to help offset the costs of obtaining professional and agronomic advice for nutrient and sediment management to meet the new reef protection regulations.

There are also a number of industry-specific support programs for graziers, sugarcane and banana growers as well as horticulture and grains producers. 

View the support programs information online. 

What do the new regulations mean for agricultural advisers?

From 1 December 2019, agricultural advisers, such as fertiliser sellers and agronomists, operating in reef regions need to keep records of any tailored advice provided to agricultural producers or to people seeking advice on their behalf (such as farm contractors) about meeting minimum practice agricultural standards and the requirements of a farm nitrogen phosphorus budget (sugarcane only).

Tailored advice means advice about meeting the minimum standards and farm nitrogen phosphorus budgets that is not general in nature and is specific to a particular property and related set of circumstances.

Records must be created within five business days after providing the advice, and be kept for a minimum of six years.

View the full description of the requirements for agricultural advisers.