The Housing Innovations Unit of the Department of Health and Human Services has engaged Sinclair Knight Mertz (SKM) to investigate the development of the remaining land at Huntingfield for residential purposes.

Community input is sought.

A community information session and forum is to be held on Wednesday 1 July 2009 at the Welcome Inn, Kingston View Drive, 6:30 p.m. Tea, coffee and light refreshments will be provided.

Quote: “ If preliminary investigations find this site to be suitable for housing, a master plan will be prepared.”

This land is fertile farm land. It is much too good to be growing houses – a once-only crop.

The land in question is owned by the State government and comprises about 70ha, bounded on the west by the Channel Highway, the north by the existing Huntingfield subdivision, the east by the Peter Murrel Reserve and the south by the North West Bay Golf Club and privately owned land.

There are three objective reasons why this land (or at least the majority of it) should be retained for food production.

1. The majority of the land is very fertile soil – Class 3/4 according to the Land Capability Survey at least, and possibly Class 2 in places. It is similar in age and origin to the north-west coast kraznozems, the principle difference being that the Huntingfield soils shallower. This land is the last of the Tertiary basalt soils which are scattered around Kingston (and which in the past supported 11 dairy farms) not subdivided for housing.

In its last years as a dairy farm, this land was producing enough milk to feed 2000 families per day.

It should be unnecessary to note that the availability of fertile soils is declining rapidly on a world-wide basis and as a consequence this land should be reserved for food production in perpetuity.

2. For the last 50 years, much of the increase in agricultural productivity, (which has resulted in food being cheaper in real terms than ever before) has resulted from increased inputs of fossil energy.
Principally on the form of fuel for tractors (increasing the productivity per worker) and fertilizers, other inputs from fossil energy include herbicides, pesticides and farm requisites in general. In addition, cheap transport fuels have allowed food to be transported long distances, increasing competition between producers and allowing consumers a greater choice of foods. This era is coming to an end, (another point it should be unnecessary to note), and as a consequence there is a movement in the western world to increase local food production. This is an appropriate movement.

3. Agriculture is principally a system of harvesting solar energy.
Nutrients, water and carbon dioxide allow plants to grow. Humans either eat those plants directly or indirectly as grain, or feed the plants to animals which in turn are eaten. Key to this production system is water.
Some plants will grow in water where there is almost no nutrients but the converse is not true. As a consequence, water available when required is one of the key requirements for agriculture.

Although the remaining land at Huntingfield relied in the past for irrigation water from the large dam in Coffee Creek, there is another source of water which is likely to become much more important – recycled water from Kingston households.

Agricultural consumers of recycled water in Brighton and Clarence praise the schemes. The Kingborough Council admits that its present sewerage system is at capacity. What better than to divert water (possibly rich in nutrients, depending on its stage of processing) to local land? In this case, the land is reasonably free draining which means that winter water logging is unlikely to be a problem and just as importantly is salt free,meaning that additional water will not raise salt levels in the soil profile.

In my view, these three pillars should be the foundations on which farming on this land should continue and expand.

If you are of a mind to defend this fine farm land and can attend the forum, please RSVP to to advise the number attending. Also, email the same address with your contact details if you would like to receive updates about the project and participate in a community input survey.

John Maddock