About Reefonomics

Background to Reefonomics

There are about 65 (and growing) alternative agricultural improvement project types across a range of industries (Sugarcane, Banana, Cropping, Grazing). The catchments which contribute to the Great Barrier Reef cover 224,000km2 (twice the size of Victoria, Australia) and have a diverse topography, soil and climate range. The cost and relative water quality benefit of the alternative projects vary widely across this large region.

Spatial domain

Reefonomics operates across 224,000km2 of the great barrier reef. Computation is conducted at a fine planning unit scale (10-50km2). There are 5,700 planning units in Reefonomics. The results are aggregated to allow reporting at 46 catchments and sub-catchments, six regions and for the Great Barrier Reef Region as a whole.

Underlying data

The three key data sources that drive the Reefonomics tool have been derived by the Queensland Office of the Great Barrier Reef. These data sources are:

  1. current water quality generation rates;
  2. potential water quality improvement through agricultural practice; and
  3. available areas to apply agricultural practices.

Special features

Pragmatic prioritisation

Reefonomics adopts a recursive, pragmatized, marginal cost abatement curve approach to creating portfolios of investment projects, which achieve the greatest water quality benefit for a given budget, or the minimum budget to meet water quality targets.

The marginal cost abatement curve approach is to order actions from best return on investment to least return on investment.

The ‘pragmatized’ feature allows user to reorder actions according to some other ‘pragmatic’ decisions such as co-investment opportunities or likelihood of adoption.

The recursive feature is because performing some on-ground actions may make other actions available be performed, or may open up more opportunities for previously performed actions.

Cost breakdown

Reefonomics presents a prediction of cost to the donor over time with a breakdown between capital and operation costs.


The results in Reefonomics show a ‘confidence’ band. This is to allow for investment portfolios to consider activities which are well researched along with more experimental techniques.

Change through time

Some project types have an immediate effect (e.g. changed fertilizer application), whereas others may take many years to realise the water quality improvement (e.g. stock control to allow natural revegetation). Reefonomics quantifies the likely water quality improvement through time.

It’s updatable

Reefonomics has libraries of projects which can be updated and added to ensure that the scenarios represent the current state of knowledge.


Reefonomics is due for general availability in 2021

If you want to know more about Reefonomics or would like a demo, please contact us.

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