Irrigation in the Pilbara

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Transforming Agriculture in the Pilbara (TAP) project

The Transforming Agriculture in the Pilbara (TAP) project is ground-proofing soil and water resources in the region for potential horticulture, fodder and field crop production for a range of irrigation development sizes.

Ten areas with significant land and water resources have been identified and some have become the focus of further soil and water field validation, including the lower De Grey River, Shaw River, Karratha Hinterland and Newman.

The TAP project is working with industry partners on several irrigated systems research topics to optimise productivity from suitable land and water resources.

Pilbara land and water resource assessment

Field survey, sampling and analysis work will identify land and water resources suitable for irrigation development. This work is underway at several target locations in the Robe River, Karratha Hinterland, Lower DeGrey, Shaw River and Newman areas.

Activities include:

  • census of pastoral and production bores to map groundwater depth and quality
  • exploratory drilling for water
  • aquifer pumping tests to determine sustainable yields
  • sharing water resource information with Department of Water and Environmental Regulation to assist their planning and licencing processes
  • surveys to map out suitable soils and identify potential irrigation risks
  • identification of Aboriginal heritage and environmental sensitivities in potential development areas.

Economic analysis and business development

As soil and water information become available, TAP is appraising the economic potential of target investigation sites by exploring a range of development scenarios with current tenure holders and potential investors.

Activities include:

  • evaluating the best strategies to use irrigation to drive productivity and profitability in beef production.
  • analysing to optimise infrastructure requirements needed to develop irrigation water resources at various sites.
  • calculating the viability of forage, grain, fibre and horticultural crop opportunities in the Pilbara
  • compiling and reporting of land, water and economic information for specific development areas.
  • providing a point of contact to access information on soil and water, economics and regulatory requirements specific to individual client enquiries.

Irrigated agriculture research

TAP supports existing irrigators and is evaluating new opportunities by working with industry, CSIRO and relevant collaborators to answer research questions.

Activities include:

  • a horticultural ‘proof of concept’ site at Newman that will evaluate potential production of high value temperate fruit crops in this unique inland, elevated Pilbara location.
  • modelling and field evaluation of a range of field crop grain, forage and fibre species in the Pilbara environment.

Project updates

Contact information

Chris Schelfhout
+61 (0)8 9143 7011
Page last updated: Tuesday, 13 October 2020 - 3:21pm