Territory Stories

Land units of the Seventeen Mile Plain, Melville Island, 1973



Land units of the Seventeen Mile Plain, Melville Island, 1973

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by H.R.M. Van-Cuylenburg and C.R. Dunlop.


Van Cuylenberg, H. R. M.; Dunlop, C.; Australia. Dept. of the Northern Territory. Animal Industry and Agriculture Branch


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Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).


Date:1973; Bibliography: p. 38




Land use -- Northern Territory -- Melville Island

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Northern Territory Administration

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38 p. : ill., maps ; 30 cm.

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23 The actual stocking rate will still be very low due to the long slopes and extreme sandiness of the soil. unit 4c. The main limitations on use of this unit are shallow gravelly soils, imperfect drainage and high degree of slope. Here again a watertable at 60 cm was noted in February 1974. As for unit 4a, it may be necessary to move cattle onto drier areas in the wet season. This unit would be capable of carrying improved pastures a light disc harrowing in strips, on the contour. However, clearing of this unit should be avoided. It would be advisable to leave the present vegetation undisturbed. A mottled gravel pan is found in these soils at very shallow depths 1 suggesting imperfect drainage. This could influence pasture production, since extremes of waterlogging and droughtiness would be experienced seasonally. unit Sa. Most of unit Sa is situated in the south-west corner of the ain and is readily accessible. Trafficabili ty was excellent this unit after heavy rains. The more level areas could be used for cash cropping or forestry plantation. Forestry section do not have similar areas under plantation, although these soils are similar to those on the plateau in that they are deep red earths, al though of coarser texture than those on the plateau surfaces. The areas with higher slopes could be disc harrowed on the contour if improved pastures are established. There should be no need for clearing as the timber is extremely sparse. Some useful information will be gained from the trials being conducted by Mr. C. Archer of the Animal Industry and Agriculture Branch, whose trial plot is on this soil. Generally these areas seem to have the most potential of all units on the plains. since the soil has a sandy surface, lower evaporation rates and higher infil tration rates should follow, hence the soil has a high capacity to permit entry and storage of water. It was understood at the time of the survey that the soils on the plains had high watertables during the wet season. There was no indication in the Killuppa or Cockatoo soils of this wetness or drainage impedance, during the dry season. During the wet season of 1973-74 after extremely heavy rains, these soils were found to be moist, well drained and easily trafficable .. Infiltration and drainage seemed to be excellent.

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