Research is underway on a suite of WaterSmart Farms projects to help build climate resilience in Western Australian farm businesses.
The collaborative initiative, led by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), includes the Grower Group Alliance, Murdoch University, Curtin University and the Water Corporation, with support from Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety and leading desalination companies.
Project leader, senior principal research scientist Richard George, gave an update on the progress of the WaterSmart Farms initiative at the recent Grower Group Alliance Forum.
Dr George said three interlinking projects would assist landholders to improve farm water supplies.
“The first component is working with Murdoch University to prepare an inventory of desalination units to get a better understanding of the motivation for such a significant investment, how it fits in to the whole farm enterprise and how it’s working,” he said.
“We’re talking to landholders about their experiences, how they’re using the water and what they would have done differently so we can develop a better understanding of the application of this relatively new technology.”
There has been significant interest in desalinisation units in the Wheatbelt, with more than 25 applications for a Notice of Intent to the Soil and Land Conservation Commissioner to install a commercial desalinisation plant in the past two years.
A second component undertaken with the Water Corporation will see at least four purpose-built desalinisation units installed in different areas of the Wheatbelt to meet various needs.
“This project will push the technology and explore the potential to use of more saline water in desalinisation units,” Dr George said.
“The location of the units will be determined after drilling and extensive consultation to identify areas of need and potential collaborators.”
A third WaterSmart Farms component with Curtin University, Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety and the Grower Group Alliance involves a targeted groundwater exploration program to identify suitable supplies for desalinisation units.
“Desalinisation provides a unique opportunity to convert brackish or saline water into a supply suitable for different applications, like livestock, processing systems for agriculture or spraying,” Dr George said.
“This project will undertake a deep drilling program, to depth of more than 100 metres, to identify secure groundwater supplies in fractured bedrock that may have higher yields – something that has not been researched in the Wheatbelt before.”
The outcomes from the three projects will be shared with landholders through the Grower Group Alliance network, such as field days.
For more information on the WaterSmart Farms project visit agric.wa.gov.au.
Picture caption: DPIRD is working on a several collaborative projects to help farm businesses build climate resilience through the use of desalinisation plants, like this one used by Murdoch University.
Source: WA DPIRD