Agriculture and Food Minister Kim Chance today announced that $3million would be spent on phase two of the Carnarvon Artesian Basin Rehabilitation Program, as part of the 2008-09 State Budget.
Mr Chance said the Carnarvon initiative was a joint project between the Federal Government, the Department of Agriculture and Food and the Department of Water, which involved the decommissioning of some bores and the redrilling of new ones.
“The first of 12 new bores has been redrilled at Carbla station, with the remainder to be completed over the next 12 months,” he said.
“A total of 55 free flowing bores will be decommissioned, enabling further rehabilitation of the Carnarvon Artesian Basin.
“It’s estimated that this will save 7GL of surface water and up to 59GL of subsurface water each year.
“To put that into context, the total water usage from the Carnarvon town and irrigation precinct is about 12GL a year.”
The Minister said the State Government had also been working with local pastoralists to examine whether the artesian water, which in some areas was mildly brackish, was suitable for use in agriculture.
“The Department of Agriculture and Food has been undertaking trial work using the latest technology to see if there is potential for commercial-scale irrigated agriculture in the northern region using the artesian water,” he said.
“Results from phase one of the project indicate that it is possible to grow pastures using artesian water. However, more information is needed to establish whether this is a long-term viable option.
“The second phase of commercial testing of irrigated pastures using artesian water will be undertaken at Wooramel Station later this year.
“Phase two of the rehabilitation of the Carnarvon Artesian Basin is expected to be completed by June 2009.”
Other key State Budget funding initiatives for agriculture and horticulture in the Gascoyne include:
· $300,000 for developing ‘precision pastoralism’ to improve profits, sustainability and reduce the climate risk impact on livestock production;
· $200,000 to develop the rangelands goat industry by working with the Malaysian Government to import Western Australian rangelands goats for the Malaysian Boer Goat breeding program;
· $140,000 for animal and plant biosecurity in the Gascoyne, including wild dog control and management of feral goats, donkeys and camels and surveillance for exotic pests and incursions;
· $100,000 for developing catchment and station management plans to protect the productive capacity and biodiversity of the Gascoyne catchment and Carnarvon basin;
· $100,000 for inspection of existing pastoral leases in support of the Pastoral Lands Board; and
· $100,000 to review new industry opportunities, with a focus on the region’s capacity to produce both subtropical and temperate crops, counter-seasonal to the South- West.
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