Irrigation in the Pilbara

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development is planning for the future of irrigated agriculture development in the Pilbara, recently completing a three-year investigation into irrigated agriculture development in the Pilbara. 

The Pilbara Hinterland Agricultural Development Initiative (PHADI) was the first comprehensive investigation into irrigated agriculture opportunities in the region and the findings are now available in a series of reports and factsheets to help government, investors, pastoralists and industry gain insight into its potential.

Growing the Pilbara report

Growing the Pilbara summarises the major findings from the PHADI project and delivers a prefeasibility level assessment of the irrigation development opportunities in the Pilbara.

Growing the Pilbara outlines the opportunity for development of medium-to-large scale irrigation enterprises in the region. It follows a methodology for assessing resource options, identifying markets, and evaluating the regulatory framework for irrigation in the Pilbara. 

While intended as a guide for government and private investors, this report highlights where the department believes suitable soil and water resources exist in the Pilbara, identifies potential markets, and investigates the viability of some systems and development opportunities. It attempts to show where and how irrigated agriculture could develop in the Pilbara. Further work will be required to consolidate the findings before investment proceeds.

Growing the Pilbara factsheets

A series of factsheets are also available to provide prospective irrigators with an overview of some of the key considerations of developing an irrigated agriculture enterprise in the Pilbara.

Selecting sites for irrigation in the Pilbara — climate, land and water considerations

Growing irrigated crops and pastures in the Pilbara

Developing and operating an irrigated fodder enterprise in the Pilbara — financial considerations

The Pilbara Hinterland Agricultural Development Initative

Irrigated agriculture has the potential to expand the economic base of the Pilbara and attract major capital investment to the region. 

Funded by the Western Australian State Government, the Pilbara Hinterland Agricultural Development Initiative (PHADI) collected and analysed information on soil and water resources, agronomics, land tenure, supply chain and markets, economic viability, areas of cultural and environmental significance, and stakeholder attitudes towards developing irrigation in the Pilbara.

The project had a strong focus on practical research through the Woodie Woodie pilot site, which provided valuable research information for existing and aspiring irrigators in the region.

PHADI was delivered in partnership with the Pilbara Development Commission and worked closely with the mining industry, Aboriginal groups, local government and the pastoral industry.

The opportunity for irrigated agriculture

  • More than 100 gigalitres of potential water resources across the Pilbara
  • 2 million hectares of highly suitable soils
  • Potential development of 5000 - 12 000 hectares of irrigation in the region. 

Project updates

Contact information

Chris Schelfhout
+61 (0)8 9368 3361
Page last updated: Thursday, 30 November 2017 - 12:08pm