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4620.0 - Natural Resource Management on Australian Farms, 2004-05 (Reissue)  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 19/12/2007   
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NOTES


ABOUT THIS PUBLICATION

This publication presents estimates compiled from the Australian Bureau of Statistics' (ABS) first dedicated Natural Resource Management survey.


In developing the NRM survey, five priority topics were identified; native vegetation, weeds, pests, land and soil, and water. These form the focus of the Natural Resource Management Survey 2004-05.


The survey asked farmers to identify the extent and type of NRM issues present on their land and the activities they undertook to prevent or manage them. It also asked farmers to identify areas affected and managed within the five priority NRM topics, and provide details of the labour and financial costs associated with activities undertaken.


The results provide an important perspective into NRM activities and issues occurring on Australian farms during 2004-05, and because they are based on the perception of farmers, may differ from scientific or satellite assessment.


The ABS welcomes feedback on this publication in terms of its relevance, usefulness, quality and range of data presented. Also, more detailed information may be available on request. Please send any comments or questions to the Director, Environment Surveys Business Statistics Centre, GPO Box 66, Hobart, TAS 7001, or phone (03) 6222 5850.



RE-ISSUE OF PUBLICATION

A re-issue of this publication has been necessary to correct errors detected in the calculation of certain percentages. A geographic recoding of some units has also occurred. For further information, see paragraphs 26 and 27 of the Explanatory Notes.



INTERPRETING THE DATA

As the NRM survey relies on the perceptions and attitudes of the person completing the form, care should be taken when comparing data from this publication to data from other sources (see paragraphs 18-24 of the Explanatory Notes). For further assistance in interpreting the data included in this publication, please refer to Appendix 1.



INQUIRIES

For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.



SUMMARY COMMENTARY


NATIONAL OVERVIEW

NRM expenditure and effort

In 2004-05, Australian agricultural establishments spent over $3.3 billion preventing and/or managing Natural Resource Management (NRM) issues. On average, agricultural establishments undertaking NRM activities spent approximately $28,176 and invested 121 person days of effort on these activities.


Australian agricultural establishments spent over $1.1 billion to prevent or manage weeds in 2004-05. While weed activities were the most costly in dollar terms, it was land and soil issues which proved the most time consuming. On average, agricultural establishments undertaking land and soil activities spent 51 person days of effort on these activities.

1.1 Natural resource management, Expenditure and effort by theme: Australia - 2004-05

Agricultural establishments reporting NRM activities
Agricultural
establishments
reporting any
NRM activity
no.(a)
Total NRM
expenditure $m
Average NRM
expenditure
$(b)
Total NRM
effort person
days
Average NRM
effort person
days(c)

Native vegetation(d)
50 634
255
5 029
1 606 319
32
Weeds
104 486
1 167
11 173
4 062 800
39
Pests
99 136
721
7 277
3 880 120
39
Land and soil
75 505
907
12 017
3 878 835
51
Water
42 685
314
7 351
1 018 331
24
Any NRM activity
119 417
3 365
28 176
14 446 405
121

(a) Agricultural establishments reporting more than one NRM activity or issue are shown against each specific NRM theme.
(b) By theme, average NRM expenditure per agricultural establishment undertaking NRM activities.
(c) By theme, average NRM effort (in terms of person days) per agricultural establishment undertaking NRM activities.
(d) See Explanatory Notes, paragraph 20.


Of the agricultural industries, the grain growing industry spent the most overall on NRM in 2004-05 (approximately $772 million), followed by the beef cattle industry ($639 million). Agricultural establishments in the cotton growing industry undertaking NRM spent the most on a per establishment basis, averaging $243,741.


Grain growers undertaking NRM were the next in line, spending an average of $63,370 in 2004-05. Both were well above the national average of $28,176 per establishment (due to the intensive input nature of these industries in relation to the use of herbicides and pesticides).


NRM activities and issues

NRM issues were reported as being present on 86% (112,357) of agricultural establishments in 2004-05, whereas 92% (119,417) of agricultural establishments reported undertaking some form of activity to prevent and/or manage these issues. This suggests a number of farmers preventatively managed their holdings in order to avoid NRM issues affecting their land.

1.2 Natural Resource Management, Overview: Australia - 2004-05

no.
%

Agricultural establishments
129 934
100.0
Agricultural establishments reporting native vegetation(a)
81 815
63.0
Agricultural establishments reporting NRM activities(b)
Any NRM activity(c)
119 417
91.9
Native vegetation(d)
50 634
61.9
Weeds
104 486
80.4
Pests
99 136
76.3
Land and soil
75 505
58.1
Water
42 685
32.9
Agricultural establishments reporting NRM issues(b)
Any NRM issue(e)
112 357
86.5
Native vegetation(d)
36 408
44.5
Weeds
95 062
73.2
Pests
90 171
69.4
Land and soil
60 048
46.2
Water
49 523
38.1

(a) See Explanatory Notes, paragraph 19.
(b) Agricultural establishments reporting more than one NRM activity or issue are shown against each specific NRM theme.
(c) See Explanatory Notes, paragraph 22.
(d) See Explanatory Notes, paragraph 20.
(e) See Explanatory Notes, paragraph 23.


The most commonly reported NRM issues at the national level were weeds (73%) and pests (69%). Similarly, the most common NRM activities were weed and pest related (80% and 76% respectively). These two NRM themes rated highly across all agricultural industries.


While weed activity rated highly, the area of agricultural land affected by weeds (16%) was significantly less than the area affected by pests (62%). Also, the area of agricultural land managed for weeds (16%) was less than the areas managed for both pests (65%) and land and soil (30%).


Barriers to improving NRM practices

While the majority of agricultural establishments undertook NRM activities in 2004-05, two-thirds (86,322) felt there were barriers that prevented them from improving their NRM practices. Of this population, the greatest reported barriers were lack of financial resources (78%), lack of time (57%) and lack of incentives (31%).


Native vegetation

In 2004-05, Australian agricultural establishments reported having 324 million hectares of native vegetation on their land. This represents 73% of total agricultural land in Australia. A significant proportion of this reported area was in the rangelands, an area outside the cleared intensive land use zone. Farmers often reported these large rangeland areas as being covered entirely by uncleared native vegetation.


Approximately 55% of agricultural establishments with native vegetation reported no associated issues. Of those, nearly half (46%) reported undertaking some form of preventative management activity.



STATE OVERVIEW

NRM expenditure and effort

Agricultural establishments in New South Wales spent the most overall on natural resource management activities in 2004-05 ($1.1 billion, or one-third of total NRM expenditure). However, Western Australian agricultural establishments undertaking NRM activities spent more on an individual basis, averaging $46,869. In comparison, Victorian and ACT agricultural establishments reported relatively low NRM expenditure in 2004-05, spending on average $16,794 and $16,348 respectively.

1.3 Natural Resource Management Expenditure, By State - 2004-05

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

Number

Agricultural establishments
40 091
32 342
27 132
14 111
11 915
3 877
380
86
129 934
Agricultural establishments
reporting any NRM activity(a)
36 876
29 548
24 885
13 139
11 067
3 470
348
84
119 417

NRM expenditure $m

Native vegetation
80
22
104
^19
23
^4
^1
^ -
255
Weeds
387
153
230
122
253
18
^4
^ -
1 167
Pests
251
108
178
62
101
19
^3
^ -
721
Land and soil
285
162
188
^126
117
^25
*4
^ -
907
Water
128
^51
^85
^18
25
^5
*1
^ -
314
Total
1 131
496
785
348
519
71
^13
^1
3 365

Average expenditure $(b)

Native vegetation
4 992
1 895
9 088
^3 976
4 688
^3 028
^8 843
^2 621
5 029
Weeds
11 565
5 749
10 847
10 607
29 722
6 337
^13 134
^5 919
11 173
Pests
7 932
4 649
8 415
6 023
10 606
6 253
^10 444
^4 378
7 277
Land and soil
11 870
9 158
12 353
^15 294
14 862
^10 923
*35 013
^5 107
12 017
Water
9 501
^5 151
^9 241
4 836
5 095
3 833
*18 474
^3 405
7 351
Total
30 665
16 794
31 545
26 510
46 869
20 486
^37 644
^16 348
28 176

^ estimate has a relative standard error of 10% to less than 25% and should be used with caution
* estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution
- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
(a) See Explanatory Notes, paragraph 22.
(b) By theme, average NRM expenditure per agricultural establishment undertaking NRM activities.


NRM activities

The extent of management activities on agricultural establishments reporting NRM issues was consistently high across all states and territories (ranging from 96% to 99%).


Of the 17,577 agricultural establishments without NRM issues during the reference period, approximately half reported undertaking one or more preventative activities on their land, with South Australia and Victoria having the highest proportion (57% and 55% respectively).


Of those undertaking weed activities in 2004-05, the application of herbicides was the most commonly reported activity, with 84% of Australian agricultural establishments reporting the use of this control method. Tasmanian agricultural establishments reported the highest activity in this area, with 87% of agricultural establishments applying herbicides. Slashing, cutting and mowing (54%) was the next most popular weed control method in Australia.


The most commonly reported pest activities in Australia during 2004-05 were the use of pesticides, shooting and baiting or trapping. Of agricultural establishments undertaking pest management, 35% of those in the ACT and 34% in Tasmania reported fencing and/or netting as a control method.


Nationally, the main activities undertaken in relation to preventing and/or managing land and soil issues were management of crop and/or pasture type and grazing management. In the Northern Territory, earthworks were also an important activity (55%). Tasmanian agricultural establishments reported high incidences of soil testing (54%).


Earthworks, drains and water pumping, tree and shrub planting or maintenance, and removal of stock from waterways were the most commonly reported water management activities. Of those undertaking water management activities, Queensland agricultural establishments reported the highest incidence of earthworks, drains and water pumping (63%), while Victorian agricultural establishments reported the highest incidence of tree and shrub planting or maintenance (45%).


NRM issues

Decreased value of production and decreased value of holding were the two most commonly reported weed issues across Australia in 2004-05. Approximately 82% of agricultural establishments in News South Wales reported decreased value of production as one of the weed issues impacting on their land. Increased fire risk also rated highly across the states/territories, but particularly so in the Northern Territory, where 62% of agricultural establishments with weed issues reported this as a concern.


In 2004-05, decreased livestock production (63%) and decreased crop production or crop damage (60%) were the main impacts reported by Australian agricultural establishments with pest issues. Decreased crop production or crop damage were particularly prevalent in Tasmania (79%), Western Australia (77%) and South Australia (72%). Approximately one-quarter of agricultural establishments with pest issues also reported damage to native vegetation.


Erosion, soil acidity and soil compaction were the most commonly reported land and soil issues across all the states and territories (except Western Australia and Tasmania). Dryland salinity was particularly significant in Western Australia, where 44% of agricultural establishments with land and soil issues reported this problem. Surface waterlogging also caused problems in Western Australia (41%).


The most frequently reported water issues were surface and ground water availability. Surface water availability was a particularly significant issue in New South Wales and Queensland, where approximately 73% of agricultural establishments with water issues reported this as an issue. The drought impacting on eastern Australia during 2004-05 was also evident in the ACT, where 78% of agricultural establishments with water issues reported surface water availability as a major issue.


Native vegetation

The Northern Territory, Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia reported the greatest proportions of agricultural land covered by native vegetation (89%, 78%, 76% and 75% respectively). Victoria reported the lowest proportion of agricultural land covered by native vegetation (10%). However, it also reported the highest proportion of area of native vegetation being managed (49%).


Of those agricultural establishments with native vegetation on their holdings, weed and/or pest management, fencing off native vegetation from stock, and allowing of regrowth were the three most commonly reported activities nationally in 2004-05. The Northern Territory reported particularly high levels of fire management, with 86% of agricultural establishments using this control method to manage their native vegetation. Queensland agricultural establishments also reported thinning of regrowth native vegetation as a common activity (27%). Victoria and South Australia reported significant activity in relation to the planting and/or seeding of native vegetation (33% and 32% of agricultural establishments respectively).


During 2004-05, agricultural establishments with native vegetation reported thickening and excessive native vegetation, and declining native vegetation quality, as the most common issues. Thickening native vegetation was significant in Queensland (65%), while declining native vegetation quality was a significant issue in Western Australia (55%).



REGIONAL OVERVIEW

NRM expenditure and effort

Avon (WA), Central West (NSW) and Border Rivers/Gwydir (NSW) were the three regions which spent the most on natural resource management during 2004-05 ($192 million, $168 million and $157 million respectively). NRM expenditure in these three regions was predominantly in relation to the prevention or management of weed, pest, and land and soil issues.


While these three regions' expenditure was high in terms of total NRM expenditure, agricultural establishments undertaking NRM activity in Northern Agricultural Region (WA) and SA Arid Lands spent more on a per establishment basis, averaging more than $90,000 each during the year. In terms of total expenditure, weed activities were the main expense in the Northern Agricultural Region, while native vegetation and pest management proved costly in SA Arid Lands.


Agricultural establishments in the SA Arid Lands region also reported high levels of effort, averaging 289 person days of effort each. Other regions where agricultural establishments averaged well over 200 person days of NRM effort in 2004-05 included Desert Channels (Qld), Western (NSW), and Border Rivers (Qld).


NRM activities and issues

At the regional level, the number of agricultural establishments with an NRM issue and undertaking some type of management activity was consistently above the 95% level. Less consistent across the regions was the number of agricultural establishments without NRM issues who were preventatively managing their land. Of those without NRM issues, high incidences of preventative management (70% or more) were reported in Mallee (Vic) and Desert Channels (Qld).


The area managed for and affected by pests was consistently higher across the regions than the area managed for and affected by weeds.


While Hawkesbury/Nepean (NSW), East Gippsland (Vic) and Wet Tropics (Qld) all reported pest affected areas well below the national average of 62% (with 25%, 26% and 29% respectively), the areas reported were still larger than those in relation to weeds. Hawkesbury/Nepean reported the lowest percentage of agricultural land affected by pests in Australia, but the region still undertook significant preventative action in relation to pest management during 2004-05.


Namoi (NSW), Mallee (Vic), Avon (WA) and Northern Agricultural Region (WA) all reported significant areas affected by weeds (greater than 40% of the total area of agricultural land).


In 2004-05, approximately half of the area (20 million hectares) of agricultural land in SA Arid Lands (the largest region in SA) was managed for land and soil issues (Table 3.10). This was the second largest area nationally behind Rangelands (WA), where approximately 26 million hectares were managed for land and soil issues.


Native vegetation

Across the majority of regions, the two main reasons given for agricultural establishments having native vegetation on their holding were to provide shelter and shade for stock and crops, and to provide wildlife habitat. Provision of stock grazing also rated highly across many of the regions, as did aesthetic reasons.


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