Chapter 4: Opportunities for agriculture and aquaculture

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Ash, Andrew ORCID ID icon; Irvin, Simon; Philip, Seonaid; Poulton, Perry; Watson, Ian ORCID ID icon; Webster, Tony ORCID ID icon


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Petheram C, Watson I, Bruce C and Chilcott C

This chapter provides information on land suitability and the potential for agriculture and aquaculture in the Mitchell catchment. The approach used to generate the results presented in this chapter involves a mixture of field surveys and desktop analysis. For example, the land suitability results draw on extensive field visits to describe, collect and analyse soils that are integrated with state of the art digital soil mapping. Many of the results are expressed in terms of potential. For example, the area of land suitable for cropping or aquaculture is estimated by considering the set of relevant soil and landscape biophysical attributes at each location and determining the most limiting attribute among them. It does not include water availability, cyclone or flood risk, legislative, regulatory, ecological, social or economic drivers that will inevitably constrain the actual area of land that is developed. Crops and cropping systems and integrated forage–beef system results are based on data analysis and simulation models and assume good agronomic practices producing optimum yields given the soil and climate attributes in the catchment. Likewise, aquaculture is assessed in terms of potential using a combination of land suitability and productive capacity of a range of aquaculture species. Information is presented in a manner to enable the comparison of a variety of agriculture and aquaculture options. The results from individual components (land suitability, agriculture, aquaculture) are integrated to provide a sense of what is potentially viable in the catchment. This includes providing economic analyses such as gross margins (crops), profit (irrigated forages) and net present value (NPV) (forage–beef); how with the advantage of irrigation more intensive rotational cropping systems might be feasible; options for integrating irrigated forages into extensive beef systems; specific information on a wide range of crop types for agronomy, water use and land suitability for different irrigation types; and integrating agriculture and aquaculture to provide value-add within the catchment.



Northern development; Mitchell catchment; Land suitability; Agricultural systems; Crop-livestock integration; Aquaculture; Northern Australia Water Resource Assessment; NAWRA

Agricultural Systems Analysis and Modelling

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This report has been placed on the CSIRO repository and may be made available to persons outside of CSIRO for non commercial purposes, in its entirety and without deletion of disclaimers and copyright information.

Funding Body NameProject/Grant ID
Australia. Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities

Water resource assessment for the Mitchell catchment. A report to the Aust Govt from the CSIRO Northern Australia Water Resource Assessment, part of the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund


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Ash, Andrew; Irvin, Simon; Philip, Seonaid; Poulton, Perry; Watson, Ian; Webster, Tony. Chapter 4: Opportunities for agriculture and aquaculture, In: Petheram C, Watson I, Bruce C and Chilcott C, editors. Water resource assessment for the Mitchell catchme. Canberra: CSIRO; 2018. <a href="" target="_blank"></a>

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