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New research to assist rapid Northern Adelaide Plains expansion

Sep 29, 2017
Author: Kathryn Nicholas


The primary policy driver for Goyder Institute’s Northern Corridor research program is the Northern Economic Plan, the South Australian Government’s blueprint for a prosperous northern Adelaide, focused on creating jobs and empowering local communities. The plan includes two major initiatives for agribusiness: The Northern Adelaide Plains Agribusiness Initiative and The Northern Adelaide Food Park.

The Northern Adelaide Plains Agribusiness Initiative includes the development of three key projects to expand the region’s agriculture, food and beverage sectors:

  • Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme to provide an additional 20 gigalitres of recycled water;
  • optimisation and production efficiency to implement best practice irrigation technology and improved management techniques; and,
  • a market access and development project to get South Australian food and beverage into global markets.

The Northern Adelaide Food Park will establish a dedicated precinct to enable food and beverage processors, manufacturers and other service related providers to co-locate, and access common infrastructure and services on one site. It will encourage sharing of information on processes, products and markets, particularly for export purposes.

With a range of new water sources – predominantly recycled wastewater – being considered for the expansion of horticulture in the Northern Corridor, the Institute’s important water research comes into play.

The recently-commenced Goyder Institute project Sustainable Expansion of Irrigated Agriculture and Horticulture in Northern Adelaide Plains aims to discover how water resources available to the Northern Corridor region can be best used to optimise the development of industries in a sustainable way.

“Reusing wastewater is a great initiative, but there can potentially be problems associated with the long-term use of recycled water if not managed properly,” the project’s leader Professor Jim Cox of PIRSA-SARDI said.

“This research will identify any water quality constraints associated with all the water sources being considered.

“Soil and groundwater information collected from the region will be analysed and then used in computer simulation models to assess the impacts of continued application of irrigation water. The modelling will also consider potential problems associated with climate change by studying a range of scenarios.”

Jim said the research aims to identify any regions and/or water sources that may cause problems associated with salinity, sodicity or other soil and crop related issues following the continued irrigation. 

“The modelling will identify the longevity of various irrigation practices in different areas using different water sources to enable early intervention to ensure the development is sustainable,” he said. “We greatly appreciate the co-operation of local growers in the area for access to soil and water samples on their properties and advice about irrigation practices and crop selection.”

Click here to read more about the project.