4618.0 - Water Use on Australian Farms, 2015-16 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/07/2017   
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EXPLANATORY NOTES

INTRODUCTION

1 This publication contains final estimates for data items relating to water collected in the 2015-16 Agricultural Census. Included are statistics on water use, water sources, irrigation expenditure and irrigation methods.

2 National and state/territory level estimates are presented in this release. Data at sub-state levels including Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) (2011 edition) Statistical Area 4 (SA4), Statistical Area 2 (SA2), Natural Resource Management (NRM) regions and the Murray Darling Basin region will be released as data cubes (Excel xls), zipped Excel files and comma separated value (csv) files attached to the publication.

3 The Agricultural Census is conducted once every five years, with the Rural Environment and Agricultural Commodity Survey (REACS) conducted annually in the intervening years. The main purpose of the Agricultural Census is to provide benchmark information on the agriculture industry for small geographic areas.

4 Estimates in this publication were compiled from information obtained from the Agricultural Census for the financial year ended 30 June 2016. Administrative data from non-Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) sources was also used to supplement reported data. A copy of the 2015-16 Census form can be found under the Downloads tab of this publication.

SCOPE AND COVERAGE

5 The scope of the 2015-16 Agricultural Census was all businesses undertaking agricultural activity recorded on the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Business Register (ABSBR) above a minimum threshold applied to the estimated value of their agricultural operations.

6 For the purposes of the Agricultural Census a business (statistical unit) is identified as undertaking agricultural activity if any of the primary or secondary productive activities of that business fall within the Agriculture Subdivision (Subdivision 01) as defined by the 2006 edition of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC). For more information, please refer to Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (cat. no. 1292.0).

7 The ABSBR is based on the Australian Business Register (ABR). Most businesses and organisations in Australia are required to obtain an Australian Business Number (ABN) from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) for their business operations. The ABR stores details about businesses and organisation when they register for an ABN.

8 Estimated Value of Agricultural Operations (EVAO) was used to determine whether an agricultural business operation was in-scope for the 2015-16 Agricultural Census. EVAO is an ABS construct used to estimate the relative size of agricultural activity undertaken by a business. Three-year average weighted prices are applied to livestock sales and livestock numbers on the farm, and to area and production data for crops. The resultant aggregation of these commodity values is the EVAO. It is not an indicator of the value of receipts of individual farms (turnover) but rather an indicator of the size or extent of agricultural activity. A three year average weight price is used to minimise the effects of both large movements in commodity prices and seasonal conditions which may otherwise unduly influence a business’ EVAO. For businesses with no previously reported agricultural activity a derived value of operations based on turnover reported in its Businesses Activity Statement (BAS) is used as a proxy.

9 As noted in the publication Agricultural Census: Nature and Content, 2015-16 (cat. no 7100.1), the scope for the 2015-16 Agricultural Census was all agricultural businesses with an EVAO of $40,000 or greater. This is a change from previous ABS Rural Environment and Agricultural Collections, where a scope of EVAO of $5,000 or greater was used. The change in scope better aligns this collection with contemporary definitions of an agricultural business and reduces the overall reporting load for smaller agricultural businesses It is proposed that only agricultural businesses with an EVAO of $40,000 or greater will be in scope for ABS rural environmental and agricultural commodity collections in 2016-17 and beyond.

10 As a result of the change in scope, the estimates from the 2015-16 Agricultural Census will not be directly comparable to previous published Agricultural Censuses or annual Rural Environment and Agricultural Commodity Survey outputs. To address this, additional estimates have been produced from a number of rural environment and agricultural commodity collections from 2010-11 to 2014-15 using an EVAO of $40,000 or greater. These estimates are now available at the national, state/territory levels and sub-state levels on the ABS website.

11 The 2015-16 Census final estimates are based on the achieved target response rate of 85% from an in-scope population of approximately 103,400 agricultural businesses.

RELIABILITY OF ESTIMATES (SAMPLE ERROR)

12 The estimates in this publication are based on information obtained from agricultural businesses that responded to the 2015-16 Agricultural Census. However, since not all of the businesses that were selected provided data, the estimates are subject to sampling variability; that is, they may differ from the figures that would have been produced if information had been collected from all businesses.

13 One measure of the likely difference is given by the standard error (SE) which indicates the extent to which an estimate might have varied by chance because only a sample was taken or received. There are approximately two chances in three that a 'sample' estimate will differ by less than one SE from the figure that would have been obtained if all establishments had responded or been reported for, and approximately 19 chances in 20 that the difference will be less than two SEs.

14 In this publication, 'sampling' variability of the estimates is measured by the relative standard error (RSE) which is obtained by expressing the SE as a percentage of the estimate to which it refers. Most published estimates have RSEs less than 10%. For some states and territories with limited production of certain commodities, RSEs are greater than 10%. Estimates that have an estimated RSE between 10% and 25% should be used with caution as they are subject to sampling variability too high for some purposes. Estimates with an RSE between 25% and 50% should also be used with caution as they are subject to sampling variability too high for most practical purposes. Estimates with an RSE greater than 50% are considered too unreliable for general use.

15 RSEs for all published estimates are available on request.

16 A table with RSEs for selected commodities follows:

RELATIVE STANDARD ERRORS OF SELECTED ESTIMATES - year ended 30 June 2016

Aust.
NSW
Vic.
Qld
SA
WA
Tas.
NT
ACT
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

Total - Area watered (ha)
0.5
1.0
1.0
0.9
1.4
3.3
1.7
4.3
Total - Volume applied (ML)
0.5
0.8
0.8
1.2
1.1
2.8
1.6
5.4
Pastures/cereal crops for grazing/fed off - Area watered (ha)
1.1
2.2
1.7
5.8
3.6
4.3
2.2
Pastures/cereal crops for grazing/fed off - Vol. (ML)
0.8
1.8
1.2
4.6
2.7
2.9
2.3
Rice - Area watered(ha)
1.8
1.7
39.0
19.5
45.3
28.6
Rice - Volume applied (ML)
1.7
1.7
39.0
17.1
45.3
28.6
Sugar cane - Area watered(ha)
1.0
7.3
41.1
1.0
35.6
Sugar cane - Volume applied (ML)
1.6
0.5
41.1
1.6
38.8
Cotton - Area watered(ha)
1.2
1.3
37.4
2.1
45.3
Cotton - Volume applied (ML)
1.2
1.2
37.4
2.6
45.3

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)

ROUNDING AND CONFIDENTIALITY

17 Where figures for individual states or territories have been suppressed for reasons of confidentiality, they have been included in relevant totals.

18 Where figures have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.

RELATED PUBLICATIONS

19 Final estimates from the 2015-16 Agricultural Census for agricultural land use, crop and horticultural area and production, livestock numbers and farm management, and demographics are available in Agricultural Commodities, Australia (cat. no. 7121.0) and land management will be published in Land Management and Farming in Australia (cat. no. 4627.0) in August 2017.

20 Final estimates of the gross value of principal agricultural commodities from the 2015-16 Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced (VACP) Collection are available in Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia, 2015-16 (cat. no. 7503.0).

21 Final estimates for the gross value of agricultural commodities that are produced with the assistance of irrigation will be released in late 2016 in Gross Value of Irrigated Agricultural Production (cat. no. 4610.0.55.008).

22 ABS publications related to the 2015-16 Agriculture Census can be accessed under the Statistics page on the ABS website. The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the website which details products to be released in the week ahead.

ABS DATA AVAILABLE ON REQUEST

23 As well as the statistics included in this and related publications, the ABS may have other relevant data available on request. Inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.

GENERAL ACKNOWLEDGMENT

24 ABS publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated. Without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.

PRIVACY

25 The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS will handle any personal information that you provide to the ABS.