Ord research crops help determine viability


The harvest of research crops in the East Kimberley has begun, with the results used to help researchers determine which crops would be most successful as the Ord region is expanded.

Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston said a range of crops would be evaluated at

Frank Wise Research Institute.

“The crop trials, run by the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA), are now ready for harvest. The information we glean from them will help us determine what should be grown as the Ord irrigation region is expanded,” Mr Baston said.

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“For example there are 12 varieties of rice, half of which have resistance to the fungal disease rice blast which was discovered in the region two years ago.

“We are testing which varieties are most suitable for the region to determine whether, once again, we can begin commercial rice production.”

The gluten-free, nutrient-rich seed crop quinoa - heralded for its health advantages - is also being tested, along with chia and cotton.

The Minister said DAFWA was assessing land and water supplies with a view to further expansion. The final stage of environmental work on the Goomig farmlands is being completed and Knox Plains is also being evaluated as part of the current Stage 2 expansion.

DAFWA is carrying out large-scale assessment across about 6,000ha of red soils, known as Cockatoo Sands.

“This area has great year-round cropping potential because the soils are well-drained allowing production right through the wet season,” Mr Baston said.

“Initial investigations have begun into a 30,000ha area known as Bonaparte Plains, with detailed work to be done under the $297.5million ‘Seizing the Opportunity’ budget initiative supported through the State Government’s Royalties for Regions program.”

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