Unearthing Riches for Regions

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) today released two new reports in a series that identifies soils suitable for agriculture across the Territory.

DENR Land Assessment Branch Director Jason Hill said today’s release of the two reports - covering the Tennant Creek West and Ali Curung areas in the Western Davenports - identified more than 90,000 hectares of land suitable for agricultural development on Aboriginal and Pastoral Land in those areas.

Mr Hill said the release of Soil and Land Suitability Assessment for Irrigated Agriculture in the Ali Curung Area, Western Davenport District and the Soil and Land Suitability Assessment for Irrigated Agriculture in the Tennant Creek West Area follows extensive field work conducted in 2015 and 2016, in parallel with DENR’s Water Resources Division.

Work on a draft Western Davenport water allocation plan is nearing completion and is set to go out for public comment and consultation next month.

“Between both soil and land suitability projects, 682 soils were cored, described, laboratory tested and mapped in detail,” Mr Hill said.

“Working closely with local landholders and Centrefarm of the Central Land Council, the Ali Curung project investigated 47,610 hectares and identified more than 43,840 hectares of land suitable for a range of irrigated agricultural crops.

“With agriculture already established in the Ali Curung area, this new information will support the expansion of this fledging precinct.

“The Tennant Creek project investigated 57,855 hectares - 30 to 65 kilometres west of the Tennant Creek town - with 54,520 hectares found suitable for irrigated agriculture.

“Watermelons, hay, chia, grapes, citrus, mangoes, stone fruit, asparagus, garlic, onions and potatoes are among the very many different types of irrigated crops that could be grown in these soils in both study areas.”

DENR worked closely with the Central Land Council and Centrefarm, Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority, NT Farmers Association, Department of Primary Industry and Resources and key land holders and land managers, all of whom played vital roles in making these studies possible.

The identification of an additional 90,000 hectares of suitable land comes on top of the 40, 000 hectares already identified in the Larrimah, Wildman, Barkly and Bathurst Island vicinities.  This total will certainly increase significantly given similar projects are currently being finalised at Wadeye, Gunn Point, Ti Tree, Dunmarra and Orange Creek.

Planning is also underway this year for investigations in the western Barkly, East Arnhem, Roper Valley and Keep River plains.

“This enormous program represents one of the most important land and water assessment programs ever undertaken within the Territory, and will most certainly deliver real economic opportunities for regional communities and the Territory economy,” Mr Hill said.

The reports released today are now available at www.landresources.nt.gov.au/rangelands/publications/land-soil-vegetation

Last updated: 01 February 2017