Irrigation Costs and Benefits

Type: Research Paper
Knowledge level: Advanced

Farm Table says:

This report provides a comprehensive and integrated evaluation of the feasibility, economic viability and sustainability of agricultural development in these two catchments as part of the North Queensland Irrigated Agricultural Strategy.


What is the problem?

The economic viability of potential irrigated agriculture development in the Flinders and Gilbert Catchments was considered at a range of scales.

What did the research involve?

This report presents a set of analyses which presents:

  • costs and benefits of incorporating irrigated fodder crops into existing beef production systems
  • costs and benefits of developing land for irrigated cropping, at both scheme scale and farm scale
  • regional and national benefits of investment in irrigated agriculture, taking into account not just irrigated agriculture per se, but the associated economic activity that accompanies such development (e.g. construction activity and processing industries)
  • a review of the numerous legislation and regulations pertaining to land management and potential irrigation development
  • supply chain analyses to estimate transport costs savings that could be achieved if new processing facilities (abattoir, cotton gin, sugar mill) were built locally to service new irrigated agriculture

What were the key findings?

This report is structured as follows:

  • Chapter 1: this chapter provides a brief overview of the report. Detailed background material about the biophysical and human features of the catchments is not provided here. Rather, readers are advised to consult the Assessment’s catchment reports and the other technical reports of interest for detailed contextual information
  • Chapter 2: this chapter present financial analyses related to cropping developments at both farm-scale and scheme-scale
  • Chapter 3: this chapter presents a bio-economic analysis of incorporating irrigated fodder production into existing beef enterprises
  • Chapter 4: this chapter identifies the legislative and regulatory factors to consider in relation to irrigation development
  • Chapter 5: this chapter presents an analysis of the regional and national-scale economic impacts from potential large-scale irrigation development
  • Chapter 6: this chapter presents supply chain analyses that identify potential transport costs savings from three hypothetical processing facilities: i) construction of an abattoir at Cloncurry; ii) construction of a sugar mill at Georgetown and a sugar mill at a site closer to where the sugar may be grown if serviced by the Dagworth Dam, and; iii) construction of a cotton gin at Charter Towers

Final Comment

The Assessment does not recommend one development over another. It provides the reader with a range of possibilities and the information to interpret them, consistent with the reader’s values and their aspirations for themselves and the region.

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