Article – Irrigated agriculture developed in perfect time for WA cattle station

by 3 March 2015

19 February 2015
Tyne McConnon
ABC Rural

As hot dry conditions on the north-west coast of Western Australia continue, one Kimberley cattle station is making the most of its newly developed irrigation project.

Wallal Downs Station, 300 kilometres south of Broome, last year spent $1 million on setting up 94 hectares of irrigated agriculture for cattle fodder.

The station completed the development just in time as this year it has been in almost drought conditions.

Wallal has received 28 milimetres of rain this wet season which is very short of its 350 millimetre average.

The family’s other Pilbara cattle station Warrawagine is also very dry and was hit hard by fire.

Owner Geoff Mills said the extra fodder had come in handy at both stations.

“We are feeding out a lot of the sorghum hay here at Wallal and we are also transferring road train loads across to Warrawagine,” he said.

Mr Mills said Warrawgine had seen the main benefit of the irrigated crop.

“A quarter to a third of our prime fattening country at Warrawgine has been all burnt out,” he said.

“We are transporting road train loads of hay over there just to keep things topped up and going along.”

The costly project was designed to drought proof the station.

Mr Mills said it was already proving its worth.

“It’s turned out to be this year we are reaping the benefits of that and it’s proven itself to be as we had envisioned,” he said.

“We haven’t had to sell any cattle off yet or we haven’t had to make drastic changes.”

However Mr Mills said if the dry conditions persist he would start selling stock earlier than normal.

“If we don’t get any rain in the next few weeks we will start mustering anyway and sell off all the sale stuff.”

Oats at Wallal Downs Station

Courtesy of ABC Rural

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