Mowanjum Irrigation Trial

Page last updated: Tuesday, 11 September 2018 - 12:07pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Project achievements:

- Completed a comprehensive groundwater study
- Installed, operated and monitored a 38-hectare ‘stand and graze’ pivot irrigation system
- Local resident completed Certificate II in Agriculture
- Industry field day communicated information and lessons learnt from two years of operations
- Final Indsutry Report complete

The Mowanjum Irrigation Trial concluded mid 2018 following the publication of the project's final Industry Report. The report provides detailed information on the trial including key performance results, and covers the planning and management intricacies involved in optimising performance and profit from a stand and graze pivot irrigation system integrated within the operations of a Kimberley pastoral station.

Mowanjum Aboriginal Corporation established and operated the stand and graze system in collaboration with the State Government and monitored the inputs and performance of the system from August 2015 to December 2017. The information and data collected has been used to compile the final report.

An industry field day was held by Mowanjum Aboriginal Corporation in partnership with the Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen's Association at the trial site in October 2017. The field day offered industry and interested stakeholders the opportunity to view the grazing system first-hand, and to learn about the key aspects involved in establishing and operating a successful stand and graze system.

Mowanjum Aboriginal Corporation continues to operate the stand and graze system as part of its station operations in partnership with Pardoo Beef Corporation. Work has also commenced to expand the station's pivot irrigation activities. Combined with the ongoing commitment of the Mowanjum community and board, the future of Mowanjum Station looks bright.

Project overview

The Mowanjum Irrigation Trial has been the flagship project of the Water for Food program in the North, underpinned by a partnership agreement between the Government of Western Australia and Mowanjum Aboriginal Corporation executed in November 2014.

Located on Mowanjum’s 55,000 hectare pastoral lease on the outskirts of Derby in the West Kimberley, the project has been driven to support the 400 strong Mowanjum community to manage their own outcomes, empower the community to drive the social change it wants to see, now and in the future, and capitalise and build on local skills and leadership.

A 38-hectare centre pivot irrigation system was installed and commissioned on Mowanjum Station in August 2015 following comprehensive water investigations. This provided a demonstration stand and graze pivot irrigation system to support increased pastoral productivity and enable greater control of cattle management in the northern Rangelands. The Mowanjum Irrigation Trial demonstration ran for 28 months from August 2015 to December 2017. The aims of the Mowanjum Irrigation trial were to:

  • Operate the system as efficiently as possible and maximise production
  • Measure key operational inputs (water, fertiliser, energy and labour)
  • Measure key outputs (fodder and cattle)
  • Understand the economics of the operation and calculate the $/kg of live weight gain

The Mowanjum Irrigation Trial provided both direct and indirect work opportunities for local residents, as well as relevant training. The project has had a number of highlights, including a local Derby resident completing a full traineeship on the Station, qualifying for a Certificate II in Agriculture in November 2017.  The forming of a commercial relationship between Mowanjum Aboriginal Corporation and Pardoo Beef Corporation has also been a highlight, with the community receiving regular economic return through cattle agistment.