- Project to TAP into horticulture crop potential for the Pilbara
- Irrigated agriculture trials now underway near Newman
Researchers are road testing stone fruit and table grape crops near Newman, under a McGowan Government project tapping into opportunities for irrigated agriculture development in the Pilbara region.
The $5.9 million Transforming Agriculture in the Pilbara (TAP) project is examining soil and water resources in the region for potential horticulture, fodder and field crop production.
Newly planted peach and nectarine trees and table grape vines at Martu Farm, near Newman, will form a proof-of-concept trial by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.
The three-year trial will test the theory that the inland, elevated location of Newman could be well suited to producing high-value temperate crops. This is due to relatively cooler winter temperatures which assist with the dormancy phase of the crops.
The trial will involve collaboration with Martu Farm managers, and elders from the Martu fellowship have provided their support for the trial.
Initial survey work at the site has shown the soil is suitable for horticulture production and a groundwater bore will ensure there is a reliable water supply for the site.
Comments attributed to Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan:
"The Pilbara is normally associated with iron ore rocks, not stone fruit; but we want to explore every opportunity to diversify the local economy, and the science is telling us this could be a new industry for the region.
"This is a groundbreaking proof-of-concept trial at Newman which, if successful, opens up the prospect of commercial stone fruit and table grape production in the Pilbara.
"TAP is working across the region and in conjunction with the pastoral industry, landholders, local stakeholders and the Pilbara Development Commission to examine a number of areas with prospective land and water resources."
Comments attributed to Pilbara MLA Kevin Michel:
"The TAP project is an excellent opportunity to further diversify our Pilbara economy.
"It is fantastic that TAP will collaborate with Martu Farm managers and Martu elders to examine this potential new industry for our Pilbara.
"This exciting project will offer the Martu people more employment opportunities and the opportunity to expand and adapt their knowledge of horticulture."
Minister's office - 6552 6200