Article – Northern WA's farming potential mapped out

29 May 2014
Tyne McConnon
ABC Rural
A model which maps out Western Australia’s northern coast line for agricultural potential could only be a year away.
The WA Department of Agriculture and Food has completed ground and aerial surveys on a 300-kilometre stretch of the coastline from Roebuck to Mandora.
The Le Grange agriculture and water opportunities water project is mapping out the region’s soils and water resources.
The department’s principal research scientist Dr Richard George says the results so far are looking positive.
“The soils are generally pretty good. Pindan soils are good for irrigated agriculture,” he said.
“The water is particularly good, with low salinity, and in terms of contaminates, there’s basically nothing in it that’s an impediment to long-term agriculture.”
Dr George says researchers are concentrating on water in the region.
“Soils are probably not our primary concern. I guess our major concern has been trying to make sure the waters suitable and the amount of water there is available in the long term.
“So one of our first jobs was to go and look at the water quality in over 150 holes and make sure that there weren’t any major chemistry issues related to that water, and I’m glad to say there weren’t.”
The study has been now going for two years. Dr George says on ground monitoring will continue to occur this year.
“We are just going through the final stages of approvals to get the ability to put monitoring sites in to the country.”
Dr George says these monitoring points will collect data on some of the potential issues in the area.
“The salt water comes in many kilometres from the edge of the ocean and we obviously have to understand the impact of what putting water is out on that.
“There are the Traditional Owner areas that need assessment.”
Courtesy of ABC Rural