Denitrification bioreactor trial in the Russell catchment of the Wet Tropics


Denitrifying bioreactors are a passive, on-farm technology, for removing excess dissolved inorganic nitrogen (mainly nitrate) from agricultural drainage water prior to its discharge to surface water bodies. As such, they may have a role in reducing excess nutrients running to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon.

This research project will establish the effectiveness of denitrifying bioreactors as component of an integrated treatment train, including sediment traps and a constructed wetland, being established to manage dissolved inorganic nitrogen in waters flowing from the Babinda Swamp Drainage Area, an area of (mostly) sugar cane production within the Russell River catchment, in the Australian Wet Tropics. In addition to evaluating the potential efficacy of bioreactors to reduce dissolved inorganic nitrogen loads, we will be integrating this knowledge with landscape drainage models and an understanding of likely landowner participation to develop plausible scenarios of how bioreactors may offer an additional nutrient management strategy here in the Australian Wet Tropics.

The project is a partnership between Jaragun Pty Ltd, James Cook University, Australian Wetland Consulting, the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, and Terrain NRM. It is funded by the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and will run from 2017-2020. The main people involved in this project are Assoc. Prof. Paul Nelson,  Dr HanShe Lim, Liz Owen (Jaragun), and  Dr Alex Cheesman (TropOz- JCU).

Opportunities for students for this project include:

  • Water quality sampling from sugarcane farms at Babinda.
  • GIS analysis of water flows in a sugarcane farming area.
  • Hydrological modelling of nutrient fluxes in sugarcane farming area.

Please contact Dr HanShe Lim to discuss student project opportunities.

Contact us for more information


For further information contact:

Paul Nelson ProfileAssoc. Prof. Paul Nelson

Phone: +61 7 4232 1375



Dr HanShe Lim

Phone: +61 7 4232 1609


Find out more Email Us Phone 07 4781 4073