Industry opportunities through expansion of agriculture in the Northern Adelaide Plains


SA Water and Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) have partnered to develop the Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme (NAIS), a key component of developing the South Australian Government’s Northern Adelaide Plains Agribusiness Initiative, providing a coordinated approach to accelerating growth in the area.

The scheme will deliver an additional 12 gigalitres (GL) a year of high quality recycled water from the Bolivar Wastewater Treatment Plant. This is in an increase in capacity of 60 per cent – suitable for commercial food crops – to help expand South Australia’s irrigated primary production industry in the Northern Adelaide Plains, north of the Gawler River.

Preparations to deliver to NAIS, which could create up to 3,700 jobs, are now underway with the commitment of Federal Government funds announced in August

SA Water has called for Project Proposals for use of the available 12GL/year of NAIS water (Stage 1) for high-technology horticulture and other advanced agricultural purposes, including protected fruit and nut orchards, table and wine grapes, high-value feed crops, intensive animal husbandry, and aquaculture.

To deliver the additional recycled water, upgrades are required to the Bolivar Wastewater Treatment Plant, as well as a new pipe network north of the Gawler River. Once necessary approvals are in place, construction will take approximately a year and a half.

Initial opportunities for industry will evolve from the development of upgraded infrastructure to carry out NAIS. SA Water says infrastructure components will include a transmission main to transfer to a distribution network taking water to farmgate and, infrastructure such as storage and pumping systems. This infrastructure will be supported by seasonal balancing storage and pumping stations.

Regarding on-farm developments that could potentially flow-on from NAIS, economic modelling indicates that Stage 1 can support up to 300 ha of greenhouse, and broad acre cropping. Developers of this will require associated infrastructure as well as services for agronomy, irrigation consulting, equipment installation, and possible nursery development. SA Water says local businesses are well placed to enter the market due to their intimate knowledge of climate, soil and system requirements of Northern Adelaide. 

For larger, more high-tech investments, it is anticipated that commercial food production and other major agribusiness facilities will present opportunities for design and construction of production facilities and associated equipment such as heating, cooling, and control machinery. Interested suppliers are encouraged to contact SA Water via naissuppliers@sawater.com.au and to find out more online at sawater.com.au/nais.