Mowanjum Irrigation Trial

The Mowanjum irrigation trial is a joint research and funding partnership between the State Government and the Mowanjum Aboriginal Corporation, a 400 people strong community located on the outskirts of Derby.

Proposed Timeline

  • Agreement signed

    November 2014
  • Centre pivot site prepared

    January 2015
  • Production bores drilled

    February 2015
  • Centre pivot first watering

    August 2015
  • Showcase field day 1

    October 2015
  • Stand and graze trial begins

    October 2015
  • Option to proceed to freehold on 4100 ha approved

    December 2015
  • First fodder harvested

    March 2016
  • First stand and graze international sale of cattle

    April 2016
  • Research and development plan completed

    April 2016
  • Mowanjum Trainee Employment Program commenced

    May 2016
  • Interim evaluation report

    March 2017
  • Showcase field day 2

    October 2017
  • Final evaluation report

    December 2017
  • Irrigation productivity report and production plan complete

    June 2018

Mowanjum Irrigation Trial

This project is a research agreement and funding partnership between the State Government and the Mowanjum Aboriginal Corporation, a 400 strong community located on the outskirts of Derby.

Mowanjum’s 55 000 hectare pastoral lease contains large tracts of prime grazing land. It requires a dry-season feeding capability to realise its aspiration of reaching an initial production target of 10 000 to 15 000 head of its own branded cattle and stock agisted for other Aboriginal stations.

In June 2014, State Government supported a business case to establish an irrigation trial on a 400 hectare diversification permit on Mowanjum station.

A 38 hectare centre pivot irrigation system was commissioned in October 2015 to access under utilised groundwater sources and develop a stand and graze operation.

Mowanjum’s first consignment of around 240 Brahman–cross cattle from the stand and graze operation was prepared for export through the Broome Port in April 2016.

Over 200 tonnes of hay and silage were cut in March 2016. This small hay production operation has helped diversify the Mowanjum cattle operation and create sustainable job and training opportunities.

The trial is a demonstration model for other pastoral stations in the Kimberley. Crop research, irrigation data and herd analysis will be published and shared to enable growth of pastoral operations and capitalise on the world’s expanding beef market.

In December 2015, the State Government approved an application by Mowanjum Aboriginal Corporation for an option to proceed to conditional freehold for an area of 4100 hectares in accordance with the Water for Food Land Tenure Option Plan.

The project will:

  • Underpin the community’s aspiration to become a viable pastoral operation
  • Provide a field training facility for Derby TAFE’s Pastoral Management Studies program for both Mowanjum and Derby students
  • Provide vocational training opportunities for Derby High School students
  • Assist Mowanjum to negotiate approvals for a land tenure change on parts of the lease to a more flexible land use tenure and attract third party investment

Related News

Related Publications

Title Date Project Type
Mowanjum brochure 2016 Mowanjum Irrigation Trial Water for Food
View All