The Cloncurry biofuels cropping trial is up and running.
Local shire councillors, representatives from the state government’s department of development and Mount Isa to Townsville Economic Zone (MITEZ) went on site on Tuesday to check the development of the project
Cloncurry Mayor Greg Campbell said the trial was hoped to be the start of a local biofuel industry and they were working with development group to examine the potential types of biofuel plants that a local industry could sustain.
“We’ve got a trial site in conjunction with MITEZ, state development and the council to work out some ideal crops to grow in anticipation of a biofuels industry in the North West,” Cr Campbell said.
“The way this project originated from, we had excess effluent water from the sewage treatment plant that we need to do something with, and it couldn’t be released down the creeks so we had to irrigate it somehow.”
Cr Campbell said they worked a project that potentially had a commercial outcome which could offset some of the operating costs of the treatment plant.
“Standard operation for food crops wasn’t an option because it was effluent water,” he said. “So that’s why we’ve turned to biofuel plants and the trial we are doing is using recycled water potentially on an old landfill.”
They have planted numerous different types of crops including guava beans, Sunn hemp, sorghum, leucaena and soy beans to see which ones are the best performing in the local environment.
“We’ve got to get to the point where there is enough scale for the industry but at least we’ll know what the ideal plants are for the climate,” Cr Campbell said.
Through the MITEZ funding, Cloncurry Shire Council have secured the services of a specialist agronomist to oversee the project with assistance from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries with council staff looking after the watering and the monitoring.
Cr Campbell said the trial would last a couple of months to see growth rates and potential yield.
“We’ve got another plot of land we’d like to do a winter crop later next year to see the different seasonal impacts.”