Pastoralist ponders the irrigation
Mt Magnet pastoralist Ashley Dowden of Challa and Windimurra stations could be the first in the southern rangelands to move to irrigated agriculture., which has been identified as a profitable opportunity for pastoralists in the region.
The ability to sow irrigated posture in dry seasons could help meet production goals, substantially reducing pressure on the rangelands environment.
Last week Mr Dowden organised a workshop with Southern Rangelands NRM to bring together pastoralists, technical experts, government officials and other interested parties to explore opportunities for development of irrigated agriculture and to discuss the processes, costs, and lessons learned from tech- elsewhere in the State.
A panel of commercial land hydration experts consulted with pastoralists about economic benefits, costs, processes and requirements to consider if they were interested in exploring options to install artificial hydration systems on their lands.
Mr Dowden, who has been at the forefront of a campaign to build a vermin regional cell fence to control wild dogs since de-stocking his property of sheep in 2008, plans to spend $500,000 on two centre-pivot irrigation systems in the next three years.
He said consultation work he had done in Queensland and the Kimberley had made him reasonably confident about the viability of artificial hydration, which would be aimed at growing 500 tonnes of fodder every six weeks, which would feed 400-500 head of cattle.
He said he hoped to have the first centre-pivot installed by June next year, pending approvals from the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage for access to neighbouring crown land to source suitable water and then a water and clearing permit to be issued by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.
In the meantime, he is runnology
Pastoral liaison officer Russell Shaw and Ashley Dowden at the information day.