An exploratory drilling program investigating groundwater availability, land capability and crop suitability has begun in the Irwin region in midland Western Australia, after the area was identified as a potential irrigated agriculture focus area.
The $4.7 million Midlands groundwater and assessment project is part of the Western Australian Government’s Water for Food program to investigate water supply options in the Midlands area between Gingin and Dongara, one of the most economically promising irrigation zones in Western Australia.
WA Water Minister, Mia Davies, said, “The aim of the drilling program is to identify new, sustainable groundwater resources to meet the needs for irrigated agriculture and to develop better scientific knowledge for government, industry and individuals to make more informed decisions in the future.”
Regional Development Minister, Terry Redman, said the $40 million Water for Food program was made possible by the State Government’s Royalties for Regions program and was a key component of the $350 million Seizing the Opportunity Agriculture initiative.
“Extensive groundwater investigations to support increased irrigated agriculture are continuing in other areas of the state, with the commencement in May 2016 of exploratory drilling in the Kimberley region and another in the Myalup-Wellington area before the end of the year,” Mr Redman said.
“The Government will continue to support Water for Food projects aimed at increasing investment in, and expansion of, irrigated agriculture projects that facilitate regional development and employment opportunities.”
Agricultural Region MLC and chairman of the Midlands Community Reference Group, Martin Aldridge, said the results from the drilling program would provide information to redefine the sustainable yields of the aquifers in the area.
“Matching the water information with soil quality, infrastructure and crop studies will provide confidence to private investors looking to develop and expand horticulture in the region,” Mr Aldridge said.