Pilbara Hinterland Agricultural Development Inititative

Hay bales loaded onto truck after the first harvest at the Woodie Woodie site.
36 bales Sweet Jumbo Sorghum, 12 bales Callide Rhodes Grass, 2 bales Katambora Rhodes Grass from the Woodie Woodie irrigation site in the eastern Pilbara.

Project Manager's update

The Pilbara Hinterland Agricultural Development Initiative (PHADI) team have had some encouraging achievements since our last update.

We held our second project update session in November, where we showcased findings from a number of the diverse areas of research which make up the PHADI project.

Our hydrologist John Simons has created a map of all known licenced water resources in the Pilbara, including mine dewater, which could be used for irrigation development. It highlighted that although there is little remaining licensable allocation, there are many unproven resources. This is where John will now be directing his focus.

Considerable understanding of market opportunities and the economics of undertaking irrigated agriculture in the Pilbara has been gained through two pieces of work we commissioned to Coriolis Research and GHD respectively. This work allowed us to intensify our focus on investigating a subset of irrigated agriculture enterprises that are more likely to have a viable fit in the Pilbara.

At the time of publication, DAFWA was notified that mining operations at the Woodie Woodie manganese mine would be suspended and the mine put on care and maintenance from 2 February 2016.

The PHADI team is assessing the full impact of the closure on its Woodie Woodie trial sites of irrigated agricultural crops, which include sorghum, perennial grasses, lucerne and tropical legumes. We are working with our project partners to investigate options to maintain access to water to allow for the continuation of the project. 

DAFWA and our PHADI project partners have had a close working relationship with mine owner and operator, Consolidated Minerals throughout the development and commissioning of the Woodie Woodie project.

The change in mining operations highlights a key learning of the irrigation project. This inherent risk of using mine dewater demonstrates the importance of security of water supply for irrigated agriculture.

2016 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for the PHADI project as our resource investigations, economic and regulatory framework studies start to coalesce to give a vision of not only where Pilbara irrigation opportunities may exist, but the steps needed to bring them to fruition.

Find out more

We welcome your feedback on any of the featured articles in this edition or questions about the project.

Visit the PHADI webpage or email the team; phadi@agric.wa.gov.au 

Find us on Twitter by following @DAF_WA, and keep an eye out for #PHADI for our latest project updates

The Pilbara Hinterland Agricultural Development Initiative is made possible by the State Government’s Royalties for Regions program.