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4618.0 - Water Use on Australian Farms, 2008-09 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 19/04/2010   
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IRRIGATION METHODS

Australia

Above-ground drip or trickle irrigation was the most common method of irrigation in Australia in 2008-09, used by 11 thousand agricultural businesses. Surface irrigation was used by 7,674 agricultural businesses and microspray sprinklers used by 5,915 agricultural businesses.

In 2008-09, the main irrigation method was surface irrigation, irrigating 804 thousand hectares. Large mobile machines were used to irrigate 253 thousand hectares and above-ground drip or trickle irrigation was used to irrigate 217 thousand hectares.

State/Territory

Above-ground drip or trickle irrigation was used by 23% of all agricultural businesses who irrigated in New South Wales in 2008-09 (used by 2,337 agricultural businesses). This method was used by 52% of irrigating agricultural businesses in South Australia (3,034) and 45% in Western Australia (1,284).

In Victoria, surface irrigation was the most common irrigation method, used by 3,600 agricultural businesses while hose irrigation was the main method in Queensland (2,286) and Tasmania (821).

The most common method of irrigation in the Northern Territory was microspray sprinklers, used by 152 agricultural businesses.

Of all the irrigation methods used in 2008-09, surface irrigation covered the largest areas of irrigated land in New South Wales (308 thousand hectares), Victoria (197 thousand hectares), and Queensland (263 thousand hectares). Above-ground drip or trickle irrigation covered the largest areas of irrigated land in South Australia (80 thousand hectares) and Western Australia (17 thousand hectares) while hose irrigators covered the largest area of irrigated land in Tasmania (30 thousand hectares) and microspray sprinklers covered the largest area of irrigated land in Northern Territory (3,008 hectares).

Murray-Darling Basin

Surface irrigation was the most common method of irrigation in the Murray-Darling Basin in 2008-09, utilised by 5,296 agricultural businesses. These businesses accounted for 69% of all agricultural businesses in Australia using surface irrigation. Above-ground drip or trickle irrigation was the next most common method (3,688), followed by microspray sprinklers (1,891).

The method covering the largest area of land in the Murray-Darling Basin in 2008-09 was surface irrigation (596 thousand hectares), followed by above-ground drip or trickle irrigation (115 thousand hectares), and large mobile machines (95 thousand hectares).

Outside the Murray-Darling Basin, above-ground drip or trickle irrigation was the most common method of irrigation, but as for the Basin itself, surface irrigation covered the greatest area.


TOOLS USED IN IRRIGATION DECISION MAKING

The three most commonly used tools in irrigation decision-making were knowledge or observation (used by 36 thousand agricultural businesses), soil probes (6,266), and calendar/rotational scheduling (5,604).

The main tools used in irrigation decision making in the Murray-Darling Basin in 2008-09 were the same as for Australia as a whole: knowledge or observation (used by 14 thousand agricultural businesses), soil probes (2,866), and calendar/rotational scheduling (2,357).


CHANGES MADE TO IRRIGATION PRACTICES

Of the 40 thousand agricultural businesses who irrigated in 2008-09, over 21 thousand (54%) reported making one or more changes to their irrigation practices. The three most common changes made included adopting more efficient irrigation techniques (8,770 agricultural businesses), adopting more efficient irrigation scheduling (6,459), and reducing the area under irrigation (5,618). One of these three changes was the most common change reported in each state/territory, with the exception of South Australia, where the purchase of extra water was the most commonly reported change.

In the Murray-Darling Basin, of the 11 thousand agricultural businesses who reported making one or more changes to their irrigation practices in 2008-09, the most commonly reported changes included the adoption of more efficient irrigation techniques (38% of irrigators making one of more changes), reducing the area under irrigation (35%), and purchasing extra water (31%).


CHANGES INTENDED TO BE MADE TO IRRIGATION PRACTICES

Of the 20 thousand agricultural businesses in Australia that indicated they intended to make changes to their irrigation practices after 30 June 2009, 41% indicated they would adopt more efficient irrigation techniques, while 29% indicated they would adopt more efficient irrigation scheduling, and 27% reported they intended increasing the area under irrigation. The most common intended change reported in each state/territory was one of these three intended changes.

In the Murray-Darling Basin, the most common intended changes to irrigation practices included the adoption of more efficient irrigation techniques (39%), the purchase of extra water (28%), and the adoption of more efficient irrigation scheduling (26%).


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