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Recycle pits

Recycle pits

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Other name/s

Recycle pit, tailwater storage pit


Figure 1: A 50ML recycle pit on a cane farm in the Burdekin. Photo by Evan Shannon.

A recycle pit is a structure designed to capture irrigation run-off (known as tailwater) for re-use in the production area. If designed, sited and operated correctly recycle pits can have significant water quantity and quality benefits by ensuring tailwater, and any associated sediments, nutrients and pesticides, are re-used on the farm and do not enter natural waterways and wetlands.

Unlike many other treatment systems used in agricultural production systems recycle pits do not treat the water. Rather they rely on the water being captured and re-used on the farm. They are also included as a farm best management practice.

Recycle pits are generally used in areas where surface furrow irrigation is used. This is primarily in sugarcane and broadacre cotton and grain crops[4][3].  Recycle pits are designed primarily to capture irrigation tailwater, but can also capture some stormwater run-off in irrigated cropping areas[2][1].

Services Provided

  • Irrigation tailwater collection and re-use
  • Preventing irrigation tailwater leaving property (thereby reducing sediment, nutrient and pesticide loss)
  • Deposition of coarse sediments


In addition to the standard disclaimer located at the bottom of the page, please note the content presented is based on published knowledge of treatment systems. Many of the treatment systems described have not been trialled in different regions or land uses in Queensland. The information will be updated as new trials are conducted and monitored. If you have any additional information on treatment systems or suggestions for additional technologies please contact us using the feedback link at the bottom of this page.


  1. ^ Canegrowers (2013), Smartcane BMP Irrigation and Drainage Management. [online], Canegrowers. Available at: [Accessed 23 July 2018].
  2. ^ NQ Dry Tropics (2009), Recycle Pit Guidelines: for cane farmers in the Burdekin Dry Tropics region, NQ Dry Tropics, North Queensland.
  3. ^ Rose, M, Crossan, A, Kennedy, I, Chapman, V & Spanswick, S (2006), Wetlands and water storages on cotton farms. [online] Available at:
  4. ^ Shannon, E & McShane, T (2013), Options for tailwater capture and reuse in the Barratta catchment: A scoping study, FarmAcist and BBIFMAC, Ayr.

Last updated: 5 October 2018

This page should be cited as:

Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2018) Recycle pits, WetlandInfo website, accessed 13 May 2021. Available at:

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment and Science