ALMOST 9000 hectares of "high class” agricultural land has been identified in close proximity to Darwin.
The Department of Land Resource Management last week released a report that identified 8994 hectares of land in the Wildman River area, with some of the sections tested just a couple of hours from the Top End capital.
DLRM Land Assessment Branch director Jason Hill said the deep, sandy or loamy surfaced red earths on level to gently undulating plains near Darwin presented a significant economic opportunity.
Mr Hill said the location of the land would be a bonus for any venture in the area.
"Identifying suitable land and water resources for commercial ventures is one thing, but having that land located in an area where there is good access to existing infrastructure such as roads and ports potentially makes it all the more viable,” Mr Hill said.
Another aspect of the identification of the land that could improve its chances of being used for commercial agriculture is the fact much of it is owned by the Territory Government.
"That would provide the government with the opportunity to sell the land to any ventures from within the Territory or businesses from down south who are looking to develop in the North.”
Mr Hill said potential crops identified for possible growth included tropical citrus, cucurbits, fruiting vegetable crops and leafy vegetables and herbs.
"Soils and land fall into four different categories and 'high class' is as good as it gets,” Mr Hill said.
"More than 70 specific crops were identified as suitable for agricultural development in the Soil and Land Suitability Assessment for Irrigated Agriculture in the Wildman River area report.
"A soil and land suitability investigation for irrigated agriculture was undertaken on lands east of Darwin in the Wildman River region covering 34,304 hectares, which identified the 'high class' land suitable for agriculture.”
The land is now the subject of a surface and groundwater study, which will help determine its full potential for commercial cropping.
"We look forward to the completion of the surface and groundwater investigation currently under way, with a water resource drilling program planned for the current financial year.”
The Wildman River region investigation into soil and land suitability for irrigated agriculture is one of several being conducted by the government since 2014.
A similar investigation in the Larrimah Area has already identified 22,000 hectares of land that is suitable for diversification and the department is currently undertaking ongoing soil and land suitability investigations across other parts of the Territory, including Ali Curung, Ti Tree, Tennant Creek, Wadeye, Gunn Point and the Barkly Tableland.
The findings in the latest report were made possible using the Darwin-Tiwi Island Agricultural Land Suitability Framework.
Mr Hill said the framework was developed in collaboration with NT Farmers representatives and the Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries and would be updated as new crops, technologies and information became available.
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