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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2005  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 21/01/2005   
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Contents >> Agriculture >> Land used for agriculture

In spite of Australia's harsh environment, agriculture is the most extensive form of land use. At 30 June 2003, the estimated total area of establishments with agricultural activity was 439.5 million hectares (ha), representing about 57% of the total land area (tables 14.1 and 14.2). The remainder of the land area consists of unoccupied land (mainly desert in western and central Australia), Aboriginal land reserves (mainly located in the Northern Territory and Western Australia), forests, mining leases, national parks and urban areas.

There has been a small decline in the overall area of establishments with agricultural activity in recent years. The reasons for this are varied. They include the resumption of some private land for national parks; the splitting up of farms, some to smaller farms (urban sprawl is a part of this process); the conversion of agricultural land to other business activities, such as forestry; and the transfer of land to Aboriginal ownership, some of which is no longer used for agricultural purposes.

Livestock grazing accounts for the largest area of land use in agriculture, with approximately 340 million ha, or in excess of 75% of all agricultural land, being used for this activity. In the higher rainfall and irrigated areas, livestock grazing has led to the replacement of large areas of native vegetation with more productive introduced pastures and grasses, many of which have now become naturalised.

At 30 June 2003 approximately 5% of total agricultural land was under crops, with a further 5% under sown pastures and grasses.


14.1 AGRICULTURAL LAND USE - 30 June

Area of
crops
Area of establishments
with agricultural activity
Proportion of
Australian land area
mill. ha
mill. ha
%

1998(a)
21.5
463.8
60.3
1999(a)
23.3
453.7
59.0
2000
23.8
455.5
59.2
2001
24.5
455.7
59.2
2002
24.1
447.0
58.1
2003
23.6
439.5
57.1

(a) 31 March.

Source: Agricultural Commodities, Australia (7121.0).


14.2 AREA OF ESTABLISHMENTS WITH AGRICULTURAL ACTIVITY - 30 June

NSW
Vic.
Qld
SA
WA
Tas.
NT
Aust.(a)
mill. ha
mill. ha
mill. ha
mill. ha
mill. ha
mill. ha
mill. ha
mill. ha

1998(b)
60.3
12.7
148.2
57.5
115.8
1.9
67.3
463.8
1999(b)
59.3
12.8
140.3
59.4
113.1
1.9
66.9
453.7
2000
62.1
13.3
145.4
59.9
105.6
1.8
67.5
455.5
2001
61.0
13.2
146.0
57.3
109.2
1.9
67.1
455.7
2002
63.4
12.8
141.4
53.5
109.0
1.8
65.2
447.0
2003
65.1
13.4
139.0
54.1
102.7
1.8
63.3
439.5

(a) Includes ACT.
(b) 31 March.

Source: Agricultural Commodities, Australia (7121.0).


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