Rice crop at Silver Hills Station, north-west of Richmond.

By Virginia Tapp


The push to grow food in Northern Australia is gaining momentum with a trial rice crop in north-west Queensland.

An agricultural company is leasing 500 hectares of land on a station west of Richmond to grow rice and mungbeans.

Tri Ag Co has planted 50 hectares of the paddy rice variety, Amaroo, and 370 hectares of mungbeans on Silver Hills Station.

The company says if the crops are successful, there’s potential to buy up tracts of land in the north for the purpose of growing food.

Company director James Hunt says they’re still in the process of working out how to grow rice without much rain.

“There hasn’t been really any ‘in-crop’ rain to help us out, and there’s been very little river flow,” he said.

“We had some water in storage thankfully which we’re growing on.

“What we are doing is bringing in different rain-fed varieties from overseas and adapting them to the way we’re growing it and when the rain’s not coming we use flood irrigation.”

Property owner Corbett Tritton says other companies have approached them to start farming a variety of crops in north-west Queensland.

He says leasing arrangements are a good way for graziers to work out what grows best on their country.

“Most of the producers who are going to apply for water, most of them I would think don’t want to actually farm or it’s going to take them a while to gear up to farm,” he said.

“If someone can come in and demonstrate how to do it and there is money in it, then that’s certainly a very viable option for people to get started that way.”

Both crops were planted in February and should be ready for harvest in May.