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4653.0 - Environment and Energy News, Jan to Jun 2008  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/06/2008   
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Water use on Australian farms

Irrigation of grazing pasture accounted for more than a quarter of the water used on crops and pastures in 2005–06, according to Water Use on Australian Farms 2005–06 (cat. no. 4618.0), released in March 2008.

About 814,000 hectares of grazing pasture were irrigated using an average rate of 3.5 megalitres per hectare (ML/ha). The total volume of water applied to grazing pastures was 2,888 gigalitres (GL), this accounted for 27% of the 10,737 GL used for all crops and pasture.

Cotton was the next biggest user of irrigation water, using 16% of water used on crops and pastures, followed by rice (12%) and sugar cane (10%). In contrast, rice used the most water per hectare, using a rate of 12.3 ML/ha, almost double the rate of cotton (6.4 ML/ha).

Surface water is the major source of water used by agriculture in most states and territories, accounting for more than three-quarters (77%) of all water used. Groundwater accounted for 20% of water used nationally by agriculture, and was the major source of agricultural water in the Northern Territory (two-thirds of total water used by agriculture in the Territory).

Almost two-thirds of irrigated land in Australia was in the Murray-Darling Basin and the volume of water applied (7,370 GL) is more than two thirds of irrigation water use nationally.

Results for 2006–07 will be released in July this year, at the national, state and territory level and Natural Resource Management region estimates.

For more information please contact Ron Just on (02) 6222 5842 or email:ron.just@abs.gov.au



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