High quality agricultural land methodology

Page last updated: Tuesday, 3 September 2019 - 12:09pm

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) identifies high quality agricultural land (HQAL) using a methodology that combines land and water resource information, to highlight areas of land valuable to agriculture and worthy of protection to ensure that resources meet future industry needs.

The HQAL methodology can assist Western Australian state, regional and local planners to incorporate multiple layers of land capability information into land use planning.

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:

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.

Contact information

Email: landuse.planning@dpird.wa.gov.au

Contact information

Angela Stuart-Street
+61 (0)8 9780 6124
Heather Percy
+61 (0)8 9780 6262
Dennis van Gool
+61 (0)8 9368 3899