Agriculture accounts for around 80% of the regional land use in the Southern Grampians Shire and is the largest employer.
Southern Grampians Shire Council supports the productive use of agricultural land and values the new opportunities and additional income streams diversification brings to our agricultural sector.
In 2014 Southern Grampians Shire Council commenced a new research project which aimed to encourage greater diversification of the agricultural land and to explore the long term capabilities and suitability of land in the region. The project was funded via a grant from the Victorian Government under the Victorian Adaptation and Sustainability Partnership (VASP) program and was completed by researchers at Deakin University.
The project mapped and modelled 8 agricultural commodities that are deemed to be suitable for growing in the Shire based on the growing factors of soil, water, topography and the current and future climatic conditions. Five of the eight commodities modelled were crops currently grown in the region as it was hoped that gaining an understanding of the long-term potential for these crops would provide valuable information to primary producers and the agricultural service industry. Three crops that are currently not grown on a commercial scale were also chosen for Council’s desire to support population growth, and to facilitate and support value adding, diversification and innovation within the agricultural sector.
The 8 agricultural commodities chosen were categorised into 3 groups: cropping (wheat; canola; flaxseed); pastures (phalaris; perennial ryegrass) and vegetables (brassica oleracea; lettuce and onions).
The methodology for each model was formulated and applied at a regional/level. The biophysical land suitability analysis maps were developed and presented with a spatial resolution of 5 square kilometres and as such, the maps should not be used to infer current and future conditions below the 5 square kilometre resolution.
Changing weather patterns in the last twenty years has altered agricultural land use particularly with cropping occurring further south of traditional growing areas. Through this project, an informed understanding of the likely effects of climate change upon agricultural activities was learnt.
The project indicates the region is well suited to agricultural production, now and into the future.