Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development
- To date, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s (DPIRD) estimated opportunity cost of wind erosion for Western Australia’s (WA) agricultural region has only included the costs of forgone production income and therefore underestimates the broader costs of wind erosion events.
- This underestimation of costs was the impetus to create a case study to give an indication of the magnitude of the costs of wind erosion from agricultural land.
- Farmers in the Northern Agricultural Region (NAR) were contacted to seek information about the on-farm costs of wind erosion events that occurred in 2020. Seventeen farmers responded to the survey and the average on-farm costs of wind erosion per arable hectare were about $100.
- Local governments and Water Corporation were contacted about the costs to infrastructure from wind erosion in 2020. The total estimated costs were about $100,000. However, the general maintenance programs of the local governments would also include clean-up costs associated with wind erosion. These ‘hidden’ costs were not included in the estimated costs.
- The estimated health costs for the greater Geraldton area – the only location in the NAR where dust measurements were recorded – were around $3 million (or about $80 per person), and one event contributed 80% of these costs. The total health costs for the NAR arising from wind erosion will be higher because the area and consequently the population affected by wind erosion during 2020 is much bigger than the City of Greater Geraldton.
- Other costs associated with wind erosion were not considered in the case study because of a lack of data. These costs include siltation of waterways, cleaning (businesses and homes), transport disruptions, clogging machinery, sandblasting of infrastructure, potential pollution of food and on-farm water sources, soil movement, weed, seed, chemical and nutrient movement into streams and the broader environment.
- Given the limitations in data collection and accuracy, this paper is intended to provoke discussion in industry and rural Western Australia about the costs and management of wind erosion. More detailed work is needed to accurately reflect the costs of wind erosion.
- The costs are illustrative and cannot be generalised because of their limitations. Costs are in Australian dollars.
Number of Pages
costs of wind erosion, dryland agriculture, Northern Agricultural Region, Western Australia
Bennett A (2023) Costs of wind erosion in the Northern Agricultural Region: an issues paper, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australian Government.
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