Unearthing Arable Soil in the Top End and Red Centre


The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) today released two new reports, in a series that identifies arable soils in key horticultural regions in the Territory.

DENR Land Assessment Branch Director Jason Hill said the two reports, Soil and Land Suitability Assessment for Irrigated Agriculture in the Ti Tree Area and Soil and Land Suitability Assessment for Irrigated Agriculture in the Gunn Point area identified almost 20,000 hectares of arable land on Crown, Aboriginal, private and pastoral land tenures in Ti Tree and at Gunn Point.

“These reports are numbers six and seven in a series on regional agricultural soil and land suitability mapping, to highlight areas suited to development” Mr Hill said.

“Working closely with local landholders and Centrefarm, the Ti Tree project resulted in about 95 per cent of the surveyed land being rated as either Class 2 suitability (land with minor limitations) or Class 3 suitability (land with moderate limitations).”

The Gunn Point investigation identified 7619 hectares of arable land east of Darwin, with 67 per cent rated as moderate Class 2 land for agriculture.

The two areas were prioritised for investigation because they have known or potential groundwater resources, for which assessment and planning is continuing.

Mr Hill said DENR valued the input from the Department of Primary Industry and Resources and the NT Farmers Association around potential crops.

Acting CEO NT Farmers, Mr Greg Owens, said that these partners had developed a crop suitability framework for both study areas.

“Potential crops for the Gunn Point area included mangoes, jackfruit, tropical citrus and fruit row crops and for Ti Tree, field, tree, vine and annual row crops,” Mr Owens said.

Seven reports completed so far have identified 150,000 hectares of arable soil in the Larrimah, Wildman, central Barkly, Ali Curung, Bathurst Island, Tennant Creek West, Gunn Point and Ti Tree areas. Similar projects are currently being finalised for Wadeye, Dunmarra and Orange Creek, south of Alice Springs.

“This program represents one of the most significant land and water assessment programs ever undertaken within the Territory, and will deliver real economic opportunities for regional communities,” Mr Hill said. The reports and maps released today are now available at  www.landresources.nt.gov.au/rangelands/publications/land-soil-vegetation

DENR's Technical Officer Pat Burley operating soil core rig, Ooloo Farm, Ti Tree area _ DENR

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