The Department is actively working with producers and industry to progress the development of an agricultural zone based around irrigated agriculture in the Finders Gilbert catchments. We are also committed to working with stakeholders over a longer term to maximize the benefits to the North West economy by identifying agricultural supply chain development opportunities for these regional communities. Stakeholder engagement sessions will be conducted to respond to local interest.
Release of water
Our staff are working with industry and project partners to facilitate the release of unallocated water from the Flinders and Gilbert River catchments. Currently a process is running in Queensland to release unallocated water from the general reserves of the Flinders and Gilbert River catchments. The release of water is being managed by the Queensland Department of Natural Resources Mines and Energy (DNRME).
Producers interested in securing a water allocation submitted tenders on 26 October 2012. The assessment and evaluation of tenders is currently underway.
Once the water is allocated, our staff will work with the successful tenderers and potential investors to explore a range of irrigated cropping possibilities and support the development of successful farming systems.
Trialling of commodity crops
The department has developed a commercial partnership agreement with Tri Ag Co, a commercial farming company that has leased the irrigation block at Silver Hills. Tri Ag Co is planning to grow a variety of crops including rice, mung beans and chick peas.
As part of the agreement, the department will work with CSIRO and capture a range of crop management data to help establish a baseline for irrigated cropping in the region. The data will also help inform the development of crop models, gross margins and management practices for crops in the region.
We will seek further opportunities to partner and support commercial scale developments that can progress agricultural developments in these catchments.
In field irrigation assessments
A profitable irrigation farming system relies on the efficient management of irrigation and Best Management Practices in crop production. Our staff will install monitoring equipment to assess the performance of water storage, pumping and the irrigation management of crops on Silver Hills.
The information gathered from this activity will be used in the APS farm model to investigate the profitability and risk associated with potential irrigated cropping systems within the Flinders. This will provide the information needed for sound investment decisions on future irrigation development within the region.
Workshops on growing cotton
CSIRO and the department will be conducting a workshop in Richmond April 18, 2013 which will identify the challenges to growing cotton in the tropics. The workshop will draw from recent experiences in the Burdekin and from other known research.
This workshop will provide an opportunity for interested growers to hear first hand how the research could assist growers in decision making with respect to cotton production along the Flinders River. The seminar will also provide some information from the small trials being conducted in the Gilbert River catchment. To request further workshop details, email here.
Developing investment readiness
Investment attraction will require a multi-tiered approach. We have commenced a process to develop individual business profiles which highlight individual businesses proposed development and the investment opportunity.
These profiles will be used along with the regional investment brochure that has been developed by FRAP. The investment profiles have been designed to be used as a web page or a stand alone hard copy document.
This activity will link with the current marketing plan for investment attraction which is currently under development with FRAP.