Nutrient Balances and Transport from Agricultural and Rainforest Lands: a case study in the Johnstone River Catchment

Level 1 General description


The objective of the project was to determine fertiliser application efficiencies from field nutrient balances under "conventional" and "best bet" management practices for sugar cane, bananas, dairy pasture and rainforest.

This study investigates nutrients and sediment losses from commercial agricultural fields and the determination of the mechanisms and pathways of their movement.


Nitrogen was measured in fertiliser, runoff, leaching losses and crop removal. The mineralisation or immobilisation of nitrogen was measured via the change in soil mineral nitrogen status and the change in the easily mineralisable nitrogen between planting and the following harvest of each crop.

The sites were installed with flumes, automatic runoff samplers, lysimeters and an automatic weather station to enable measurement of all hydrologic components.

Key Findings

From a catchment prospective the most significant finding during the study period was that nutrients and sediment in runoff water were low and that other loss processes were more significant.


All sites where located on Ferrsols in the Johnson River catchment and comprised of convention and best bet management practices from sugarcane, bananas and dairy pastures. A rainforest site was instrumented for base line nutrient data collection.


The project commenced in 1992 to 1995. The seasons were divided into 1992/93, 1993/94 and 1994/95.

Related studies



Level 2, Level 3, level 4 and level 5