Overall suitability for agriculture
GHD found that four factors were most influential in determining suitable areas in the Peel Food Zone investigation area for agricultural development:
- Urban and rural residential zoning
- Environmental assets
- Land capability and phosphorus export risk
Water is critical for development and its importance is recognised under the Transform Peel initiative's Peel Integrated Water Initative, managed by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation. These studies have not been incorporated in the land suitability assessments.
The population centres and rural living zones are generally concentrated in the southern and northern sections of the Peel Food Zone investigation area. These areas require adequate separation distances (buffers) between intensive agricultural activities where adverse impacts from spray drift, light and noise emissions may occur.
The natural environments of the Peel region are widely regarded as valuable assets to be protected and enhanced. The environmental assets in the Peel Food Zone investigation area, including the Peel-Yalgorup System Ramsar site, other major waterways and native remnant vegetation, were assessed as not suitable for agricultural development.
Land capability and the risk of phosphorus export were important factors in assessing the suitability of all soil based land use scenarios with more inherently fertile soils located in the eastern and southern parts of the Peel Food Zone investigation area.
Access to infrastructure including roads, power and telecommunications are important for intensive livestock and horticulture scenarios which rely on regular transport of product in and out of facilities, reliable power supplies for lighting and pumps and efficient telecommunications for monitoring, quality assurance and marketing.
In summary, soil based agricultural land use scenarios are better suited to land in the eastern sections of the Peel Food Zone investigation area, reflecting its higher land capability and lower risk of phosphorus export however along the eastern boundary, groundwater supplies are constrained.
Closed-loop agricultural systems are best suited to land close to established infrastructure, particularly the restricted access vehicle (RAV4) road network and three-phase power. These land use systems, assume that production requirements such as nutrients, water, light, temperature and pest control for both plants and animals, will be provided and not reliant on seasonal conditions.