TREATED sewage water is being used to irrigate paddocks of crops that can be used for biofuels in a trial at Cloncurry.
Sorghum, soy beans, sun hemp and leucaena are being irrigated with the treated sewage water at a trial site, to see how the crops react to the harsh Western Queensland climate.
Cloncurry Shire Council Mayor Greg Campbell said biofuels was an industry of the future that the region was keen to tap in to.
“The biofuel trial using the treated water had many aims, one was to find a commercial use for the water, which could be used to offset the ongoing costs of the operation of the sewage plant,” Cr Campbell said.
“From research biofuel is a potential industry well supported by the Queensland State Government and their departments as well as being a key industry of the future.
“However, to enable the scale of production to be great enough to support a biofuel plant, agriculture is the key so we have to get it going first and hence why creating water storage along the Cloncurry river, and a mosaic of irrigation blocks is critical to achieve the long term aim of the scale that’s required.”
Cr Campbell said if just five per cent of the rain and river flow of the last few days was captured and stored, tens of thousands of hectares of land suitable for irrigation would be opened up.
“Our short term plan to prove that irrigation does work on the back of the successful biofuels trials plot is to develop a 400 or 500 hectare irrigation farm over the next couple years,” he said.
“The 400 or 500 hundred hectare farm creates 15 to 20 jobs, and the larger scale project across entire supply chain will create hundreds of jobs.”
Kennedy MP Bob Katter said he was impressed by the project and had held discussions about securing finance for stage two, in which a larger plot will be developed.