High quality agricultural land
Identification of HQAL is the first step for state, regional and local planners towards recognising areas of Priority Agricultural Land (PAL).
The 2016 State Planning Policy 2.5 (SPP2.5) – Rural planning, defines High Quality Agricultural Land (HQAL) as ‘’land that is identified in a dataset generated by the agency responsible for agriculture and food, based on land capability, water and climate.”
It defines Priority Agricultural Land (PAL) as being “land of State, regional or local significance for food production purposes due to its comparative advantage in terms of soils, climate, water (rain or irrigation) and access to services.”
Priority agricultural land is derived from High Quality Agricultural Land by removing land required for existing and future urban/development areas, public use areas and environmental purposes, and after further consultation.
Identifying and protecting highly productive agricultural land
The HQAL methodology is a reliable and valid way of documenting highly productive agricultural land, based on measurable land and water characteristics. The methodology uses sound science and a clear and defensible process for integrating layers of information.
We use the best available data on soils, land capability, water resources and rainfall, and integrate this into a format that is easy to comprehend and to incorporate into land planning.
The methodology depends on:
- the scale of source data – specifically the scale of land resource information
- the availability of the water resource information – specifically the quantity and quality of water available for irrigation
- the type of agriculture present
- whether the areas are established or have potential for irrigated agriculture
- pressure from other (non-agricultural) development.
DPIRD has provided advice on HQAL in the following areas:
- Greater Geraldton and Batavia Coast
- Swan Valley Planning Policy Area
- Peel and Greater Bunbury Region Schemes
- Dwellingup (Shire of Murray).
DPIRD is mapping HQAL for the North Midlands, and is on the steering group for a contract to identify HQAL and PAL mapping in the Shire of Wyndham–East Kimberley.