Pas­toral­ist pon­ders the ir­ri­ga­tion

Countryman - - NEWS -

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.

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