A five-year project to support agriculture and pastoral diversification in the Western Australian northern rangelands has culminated with the release of a comprehensive guide to growing irrigated crops and pastures.
The project, led by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), has paved the way to better exploit tropical irrigated agriculture through the use of sustainable water resources in the Pilbara and West Kimberley.
‘Mosaic agriculture – A guide to irrigated crop and forage production in northern WA’, has been produced for pastoralists, agronomists and agribusinesses.
The project evaluated a range of irrigated forage crops for productivity and feed quality and developed management packages specific to the unique rangelands environment, looking at climate, soils, regulatory environment, irrigation, pests and diseases.
DPIRD senior research scientist Clinton Revell said the development of mosaic agriculture (relatively small dispersed irrigation developments) was creating opportunities for pastoralists to grow a broader range of high quality forage for up to 12 months.
“Irrigated forage for use on-station can provide a valuable feed source to manage cattle during dry periods and target cattle for alternate markets, outside traditional selling periods for forward selling or price premiums,” Dr Revell said.
“There are challenges with any form of agriculture in remote areas and this will be a valuable guide to inform pastoralists, agribusiness, potential irrigators and the broader community about the successful management of irrigated forage production in northern WA.”
DPIRD’s Northern Beef Development project co-funded the research, along with the Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) Donor Company and the Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen’s Association (KPCA)
‘Mosaic agriculture − A guide to irrigated crop and forage production in northern WA’ (DPIRD Bulletin No. 4915) is available from the department’s Broome, Karratha and Kununurra offices or online at agric.wa.gov.au
Source: WA DPIRD
Photo caption: DPIRD research scientist Geoff Moore, development officers Samuel Crouch and Christopher Ham and senior research scientist Clinton Revell with the recently launched Mosaic agriculture – A guide to irrigated crop and forage production in northern WA