Frustrated farmers await feasibility study findings
IT'S been two months since Coalstoun Lakes producers saw a decent downpour of rain on their crops.
Just two millimetres of rain was recorded for Biggenden in January, measly in comparison to their 14-year average of 87.4mls.
Few producers have the luxury of using limited bore water and if something doesn't give in, their industries will.
Their futures hinge on the findings of a $2 million feasibility study, investigating options for new infrastructure to increase water supply and security in both the North and South Burnett.
Federal Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd met with the Coalstoun Lakes producers at the Rackemann's peanut farm on Wednesday, hearing out their concerns and answering questions.
"Rachel said by the end of March North Burnett Regional Council should have something for me to take to government," Mr O'Dowd said.
It's been a long battle for the Coalstoun Lakes Development Group, which was denied funding in the National Water Infrastructure Development in 2016, but they haven't given up hope.
They submitted a proposal to council, to be considered as part of the feasibility study, outlining about 5000 hectares of red soil available for irrigation in the Coalstoun Lakes area.
"It's hard putting forward our project because we had to have a juggling act between land and available water," Coalstoun Lakes Development Group vice president Garry Seabrook said.
Irrigation infrastructure would significantly boost the yields of peanut, corn, sorghum and wheat crops, which are currently produced through dryland cropping.
"First of all you'd begin irrigating peanuts, and you'd be able to grow six or seven tonnes to the hectare as opposed to the dryland average of two tonne to the hectare," Mr Seabrook said.
"Because of our rich soil here we can attain high yields quite easily."
The producers said they had considered the costs of the water, if irrigation infrastructure was built, and it would be worth the outcome.
"What we're doing now is very expensive, to put out all that money and not get a return on the investment," Mr Seabrook said.
"People ask us if we can afford the water, well I don't think we can afford to keep doing what we're doing now.
"To continue dryland cropping when we're not getting the rain is too risky, and we will go back to livestock production if they don't get water."