CSG irrigation at Roma

12 Nov, 2011 04:00 AM
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3
 
Councillor Ree Price.
Councillor Ree Price.

ROMA graziers Ree and Leon Price had very little farming experience when Santos approached them four years ago with plans for irrigation development on their 12,555-hectare property, Mt Hope, north-west of Roma.

Councillor Ree Price told delegates at the Leucaena Network Conference in Roma on Friday irrigation in their area was an "unheard-of entity", with no river inside a 100-kilometre radius.

"We voiced our concerns to Santos about this lack of experience and they assured us that they would provide us with the necessary people to achieve our and their objectives," Cr Price said.

In their first partnership with a private landholder using coal seam gas (CSG) water, Santos has constructed a fully lined dam on Mt Hope with a capacity for 240 megalitres of water.

The project includes a pivot irrigation system, covering an area of approximately 70ha and an additional 30ha with sub surface drip irrigation on leucaena while the plants are in the establishment phase. A further 130ha of irrigation are planned for the future.

The Prices run 2500 head of mixed Droughtmaster cattle on Mt Hope and aim to turn off export trade bullocks by 30-months. They hope to lift the turn-off rate and carrying capacity and grow hay for weaners and silage for dry times.

"We're also really looking forward to seeing the benefits of adding leucaena to our beef enterprise. We expect to be able to turn off export grade bullocks at a younger age on a more regular basis and free up paddock space for the younger cattle," she said.

"We envisage that the irrigation will in some part help to drought-proof our operation."

But the project has not been all smooth sailing.

Fifty hectares of leucaena planted last year was washed out by heavy rain soon after planting. There there were also times when the Prices' views differed to Santos.

Their biggest concerns were about the effect of the work on underground aquifers, loss of bore pressure, depletion of water levels, possible salinity and co-existence at busy times on the calendar. There were also concerns about security with upgraded road networks, positioning of well sites around cultivation, foreign weeds and compensation.

Despite these issues, Cr Price said the CSG industry inclusion at Mt Hope had provided her family with an income stream that was not previously available - and one not connected to the weather.

"The inclusion of irrigated forage crops into the mix has shored up our family's future on the land - it has given us more options and a more positive outlook for the coming generations."

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READER COMMENTS

Liesandmorelies
12/11/2011 10:34:25 AM, on Queensland Country Life

So which of the neighbours has had their property turning into an industrial gas field so that enough water from the extraction process could be used to create this goodnews story. Also I expect their must be no chance Mt Hope will be turned into a Gas field itself could there. This must be just one little example of the dewatering of the Great Artesian Basin that will draw away billions of ltrs of underground water. Why couldn't these people access the water without Santos? Because Santos have the power to remove water from the basin above current allocations, This isn't real good news.
Brian Monk
12/11/2011 4:44:17 PM, on Queensland Country Life

Wow, amazing story, have they concidered the water is there in the dewatering phase of well development. Then it is gone along with her neighbors, the town of Roma, well, just about all the west. One persons greed added to another corporations greed will equal a lot of thirsty towns in Western Queensland. So will Santos truck in the water, or just run and hide and leave it up to the community and taxes to fund water. Or maybe the plan will be to just abandon the west once the water is either poisoned or gone. You have to love the Ausie sell out spirit.
RB Auckland
15/11/2011 6:58:19 AM, on Queensland Country Life

The fact that this is posted as a good news story makes me feel ill. As a former agronomist, much of the irrigation projects which are proposed are on land which will not sustain irrigation without wholesale soil degradation. I am sorry, but this kind of story does not paint a very rosy future for agriculture in these areas.

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Well SAID "Very Wool" The above comments are typical of a Section of the Merino industry that
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EPA is just a gov dept - they will be working on what their Minister wants. The Minister should
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VWT you are still stuck inside the square. I am not arguing for AWI. Take your blinkers off and