Integrated science informs new opportunities
CSIRO’s ability to harness multidisciplinary research to identify potential future development opportunities has been showcased through a detailed study focused on Northern Australia
CSIRO has conducted the most integrated investigation of opportunities for water and agricultural development in northern Australia, the Northern Australia Water Resource Assessment.
CSIRO assembled more than 100 experts to assess the potential of an area close to the size of Victoria. The study area included three priority river catchments across three states which included the:
- Fitzroy catchment in Western Australia
- Finniss, Adelaide, Mary and Wildman river catchments in the Northern Territory
- Mitchell catchment in Queensland.
The investigation, conducted over two and a half years, evaluated available soil and water resources, opportunities for water storage and the commercial viability of agricultural opportunities. CSIRO also engaged with Indigenous people to understand their values, rights and interests in development.
Innovative methods used to assess the potential included:
- digital soil mapping
- landscape suitability mapping
- detailed crop suitability maps (with 126 land management options for up to 44 crops)
- applying multiple disciplines to investigate potential environmental, social and economic impacts and risks
- a new digital tool called Damsite was used to calculate the potential and cost implications of dams in the Mitchell catchment and Darwin catchments in the NT
Providing this information to investors and regulators underpins confidence and helps governments and communities to make future decisions regarding water use, food production, development opportunities and environmental sustainability.
The Northern Australia Water Resource Assessment was commissioned as an initiative of the Australian Government’s White Paper on Developing Northern Australia and the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.