Covered irrigated horticulture such as strawberries in tunnel houses
Covered or protected cropping for horticultural food crops is an emerging system in Western Australia but is well established in the commercial nursery industry. This land use scenario involves covering irrigated horticultural crops which are grown in soil in order to manage the impact of natural elements particularly temperature, rainfall and wind.
By using waterproof plastic tunnel houses or other types of covers to intercept the winter rainfall, the levels of soil nutrients washing into the water table and draining off the paddocks is reduced, allowing crops to be grown closer to sensitive waterways and wetlands.
Covering horticultural crops also reduces the risk of spray drift from cropped areas onto residences and increases water use efficiency. These assumptions decreased the relative adverse impact of covered cropping on receiving water bodies and on residences and increased the area of suitable land for this land use scenario.
The use of covered horticulture does not mitigate inherent features of the Peel Food Zone investigation area such as land capability, the risk of phosphorus export and the availability of groundwater which were assessed the same as for irrigated annual annual horticulture.