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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 >> Irrigation

The high variability in river flow and annual rainfall, which are features of the Australian environment, means that successful ongoing production of many crops and pastures is dependent on irrigation. With such variation in rainfall, it is uncommon for farmers to receive all of their irrigation water entitlement each year. In 2001-02 farmers were allocated, on average, 85% of their irrigation water entitlement.

Rice is only grown in areas that can guarantee an adequate supply of irrigation water. Cotton, vegetables, fruit (including nuts and grapes) and sugar cane are the other most intensively irrigated crops, with 91%, 84%, 79% and 43% respectively of their total growing areas being irrigated in 2001-02.

The total area of land irrigated, about 2.5 million ha in 2001-02 (table 14.3), represents less than 1% of the total land used for agriculture. However, produce from irrigated land accounted for around 28% of the total gross value of agricultural production in 2000-01.

Most irrigated land is located within the confines of the Murray-Darling Basin, which covers parts of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.


14.3 AREA OF CROPS AND PASTURES IRRIGATED - 2001-02

NSW
Vic.
Qld
SA
WA
Tas.
NT
ACT
Aust.
’000 ha
’000 ha
’000 ha
’000 ha
’000 ha
’000 ha
’000 ha
’000 ha
’000 ha

Pastures (native or sown)
330
478
63
61
^11
29
4
-
976
Cereals
Rice
143
^2
-
(a)
-
(a)
-
-
145
Other cereals
290
^33
^52
(a)
^-
(a)
-
-
376
Total
434
^35
^53
^5
-
^2
-
-
528
Cotton
^290
-
127
-
-
-
-
-
418
Sugar cane cut for crushing
**
-
233
-
4
-
-
-
237
Vegetables
17
26
29
12
9
17
-
-
110
Fruit (incl. nuts)
28
24
32
19
6
^4
3
-
116
Grapevines
29
35
^2
61
^7
*1
-
-
137
All other crops
^26
8
^20
^10
3
14
-
-
81
Total
1,126
588
541
174
39
68
8
-
2,545

(a) Data not separately collected but included in total cereals.

Source: Agricultural Commodities, Australia, 2001-02 (7121.0).


Agriculture accounted for approximately 67% of water consumption in Australia in 2000-01. More information on the use of water by the agriculture sector is provided in Chapter 24 Environment.

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