Bioen­ergy po­ten­tial for the re­gion

Pilbara News - - News - Ali­cia Per­era

A new govern­ment re­port has found there could be long-term po­ten­tial for bioen­ergy devel­op­ment and car­bon farm­ing in the Pil­bara.

The Bioen­ergy and Car­bon Farm­ing Op­por­tu­ni­ties in the Pil­bara re­port, pub­lished last week by the WA Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Food, in­ves­ti­gated the po­ten­tial of ir­ri­gated agri­cul­ture op­por­tu­ni­ties for bioen­ergy and car­bon farm­ing in the re­gion.

It iden­ti­fied that while tech­nol­ogy to cre­ate bioen­ergy had ma­tured to the point where it could be used in the Pil­bara, im­ped­i­ments in­clud­ing hot cli­matic con­di­tions and ge­o­graph­i­cal re­mote­ness still needed to be over­come, while there was a need to de­velop more method­olo­gies for se­ques­tra­tion or re­mov­ing car­bon diox­ide from the at­mos­phere for car­bon farm­ing.

DAFWA ir­ri­gated agri­cul­ture ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor John Ruprecht said their find­ings would shed light on fu­ture op­por­tu­ni­ties for, and ob­sta­cles to, pas­toral devel­op­ment in the re­gion. “There is in­creas­ing in­ter­est in biomass pro­duc­tion and al­ter­na­tive land uses in the Pil­bara, such as fod­der pro­duc­tion, pivot ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tems and mo­saic agri­cul­ture,” he said.

The re­port was pro­duced by the Roy­al­ties for Re­gions-funded Pil­bara Hin­ter­land Agri­cul­tural Devel­op­ment Ini­tia­tive, which ex­plores the ex­pan­sion of ir­ri­gated agri­cul­ture op­por­tu­ni­ties in the Pil­bara.

Cheela Plains Sta­tion in the Pil­bara was part of a car­bon farm­ing trial over a three-year pe­riod un­til 2010. Sta­tion owner and man­ager Evan Pensini said the tech­nol­ogy for car­bon farm­ing in the Pil­bara was in place.

How­ever, he said WA pas­toral reg­u­la­tions, un­der which car­bon cred­its are con­sid­ered prop­erty of the govern­ment in­stead of pas­toral lease­hold­ers, was the main stum­bling block to in­cen­tivis­ing the prac­tice.

Kim­ber­ley Pil­bara Cat­tle­men’s As­so­ci­a­tion chairman David Stoate said car­bon farm­ing could be al­ter­na­tive in­come source for Pil­bara pas­toral­ists but more re­search needed to be done.

To read the re­port on­line, go to agric.wa.gov.au.

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