THE Western Australian government has initiated a $5.9 million project to ground-truth land and water resources for irrigated agriculture development in the Pilbara.
The Transforming Agriculture in the Pilbara (TAP) project will investigate the potential of horticulture, fodder and field crop production for a range of development sizes.
The project will build on the recently completed Pilbara Hinterland Agricultural Development Initiative, which identified more than 10 areas with prospective land and water resources, including De Grey River, Shaw River, Oakover River, Robe River and Newman areas.
Initial findings have identified a potential water supply in the Pilbara of at least 100 gigalitres, which if verified, equates to up to 12,000 hectares of irrigated land to add to the region’s current fledgling industry of 2750 hectares.
The three-year project will establish test production bores to assess water supply, quality and sustainability, as well as soil surveys to identify suitable areas for agricultural production.
The project will work in partnership with industry on prospective irrigation systems research activities to optimise productivity from suitable land and water resources.
It will also investigate the potential for commercial production of native foods for premium markets, including Split Jack, native pear and northern sandalwood.
WA’s Agriculture and Food Minister, Alannah MacTiernan, said: “There is great untapped agricultural potential in the Pilbara; we want to unlock those opportunities to diversify and build greater economic depth in the region.
“The TAP project will prove up the resources in the region, providing potential investors with the confidence to pursue opportunities to develop horticulture and fodder and possibly grain production.
“The project will also work with existing landholders to assess the resource potential for smaller, intensive irrigated agricultural opportunities to be integrated into their businesses.”
Source: WA Government
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