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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2003  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/01/2003   
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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 2000, the estimated total area of establishments with agricultural activity in Australia was 455.5 million hectares (ha), representing about 59% of the total land area (tables 16.1 and 16.2). The rest of the Australian land area consists of unoccupied land (mainly desert in western and central Australia), Aboriginal land reserves (mainly located in the Northern Territory), forests, mining leases, national parks and urban areas.

Livestock grazing accounts for the largest area of land use in Australian agriculture. This activity has led to the replacement of large areas of native vegetation by introduced pastures and grasses in the higher rainfall and irrigated areas.

At 30 June 2000, 5% of Australia's agricultural land was under crops, with a further 5% under sown pastures and grasses. This maintains the trend which has seen about 10% of Australia's agricultural land under cultivation each year since the 1980s. Until that time, the area of land cropped or sown to pastures and grasses had been expanding rapidly. This expansion was facilitated by factors including increased use of fertilisers, improved water supply and reduction in the rabbit population due to myxomatosis.


16.1 AGRICULTURAL LAND USE

Area of
Total


Crops(a)
Sown pastures
and grasses
Balance(b)
Area of establishments
with agricultural activity
Proportion of Australian
land area(c)
mill. ha
mill. ha
mill. ha
mill. ha
%

1995
17.0
(d)
410.2
463.3
60.2
1996
19.4
17.1
428.7
465.2
60.5
1997
21.1
19.0
422.0
462.2
60.1
1998
21.5
22.8
419.5
463.8
60.3
1999
23.3
22.5
407.9
453.7
59.0
2000
23.8
23.8
407.9
455.5
59.2

(a) Pastures and grasses harvested for hay and seed are included in ‘Sown pastures and grasses’.
(b) Includes areas of arid or rugged land held under grazing licences but not always used for grazing, and also variable amounts of fallow land.
(c) About 769,203,000 ha.
(d) Collected in the NT only.

Source: Agriculture, Australia (7113.0).


16.2 AREA OF ESTABLISHMENTS WITH AGRICULTURAL ACTIVITY

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

1995
60.3
12.7
149.7
56.1
114.0
1.9
68.6
463.3
1996
61.0
12.8
149.7
56.9
114.5
1.9
68.3
465.2
1997
60.9
12.7
149.6
56.2
112.5
1.9
68.3
462.2
1998
60.3
12.7
148.2
57.5
115.8
1.9
67.3
463.8
1999
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

(a) Including ACT.

Source: Agriculture, Australia (7113.0).


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