9 March 2014
The North West Star
MASS irrigation of Northern Australia cattle properties through “mosaic irrigation” could breathe new life into a faltering industry, but only if it’s done right.
The CSIRO’s Mosaic Irrigation for the Northern Australian Beef Industry report said cattle production could see a boost of up to $200 million per annum if forage crops were grown, and irrigated using groundwater, on properties.
Although the report highlighted the “glaring need for productivity gains across the northern beef industry”, the model needs to produce immediate profits for farmers to keep faith in the method.
“Economic analysis suggests that the development of mosaic irrigation must provide a return on investment from the start and failure to do so in the first few years may put the whole beef enterprise at risk,” the report said.
“Many northern producers are struggling with maintaining repayments and banks are very wary about lending large amounts for development.
Most producers would need to borrow the funds for mosaic irrigation development.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss said one of the key advantages of irrigating small, scattered areas on cattle stations was the ability to locate irrigation where it best met the needs of the enterprise.
“The CSIRO found that the majority of cattle stations have suitable soil and sufficient water to irrigate part of their land to grow fodder crops,” Mr Truss said.
“The study provides valuable information for the beef industry, which is a major part of the economy, culture and landscape of northern Australia.”
The report also listed indigenous employment opportunities, a low dependency on large-scale public investment and low environmental impacts as positive outcomes.
Courtesy of the North West Star
9 March 2014