Why would a pastoralist invest in irrigation?

Outside the Ord River Irrigation Area in Western Australia, the majority of irrigation developments are on pastoral land focussed on fodder production.

Join Irrigated Agriculture and Diversification Senior Development Officer, Chris Ham (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development in the West Kimberley), where he discusses the rationale for the upsurge of investment in irrigation by pastoralists.

In recent years Chris has managed the Regional Economic Development Water Opportunities (REDWO) project for the Western Australian government. The project focussed on the potential for irrigation expansion in the East and West Kimberley and the information, support and resources that developers require to be successful.

Chris’ discussion topics include:
• production systems,
• economic indicators and
• the emerging management and research issues in the West Kimberley and Pilbara regions of Western Australia.

You can watch the full recording or use the playlist below to jump to the start of a particular section within the presentation.  44:37, published 22 May 2019 by FutureBeefAu.

Download a copy of the presentation:  Why would a pastoralist invest in irrigation (PDF, 3.0MB)

Full recording


  1. Why would a pastoralist invest in irrigation?
  2. Our region – NW Western Australia
  3. Investment into irrigation in the last 20 years
  4. What is driving the investment?
  5. Water source and development costs
  6. Hay, silage and stand and graze
  7. Crop options and rotations
  8. Hay market summary (NW WA mainly)
  9. Clever producers do well
  10. Hay irrigation strategy – cyclic
  11. Rhodes hay crop growth cycle
  12. Investment decisions differ (examples)
  13. Optimal growth or fecundity?
  14. Feed quality and live-weight gain
  15. C4 grasses – composition
  16. Energy limited on tropical pastures
  17. Grazing management
  18. Selective grazing and utilisation
  19. Pasture management
  20. Rhodes pasture growth cycle
  21. Pastures strategy – consistent
  22. Infrastructure placement
  23. Animal health and welfare
  24. Mowanjum trial, Derby
  25. Some other important points…
  26. Conclusion