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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2001  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/01/2001   
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AGRICULTURE, THE EARLY YEARS

Since the European settlement of Australia in 1787, agriculture has played an important role in the development of the nation. Associated with this has been the need to compile statistics about agricultural activities. The ABS has in its libraries an extensive collection of statistical reports from those early years. The following excerpts from early Year Books provide an insight into the state of the nation at that time, the problems it faced, and the challenges encountered by early statistics collectors.

For example, in Hobart in 1804, "the rations issued to all the people were as follows: Beef, 7 lbs., or pork, 4 lbs.; flour 7 lbs.; sugar, 6 ozs. - per week". Soldiers "were each allowed half a pint of rum daily".

In 1842 in South Australia "An important feature in these returns is the great increase in the cultivation of the vine, and the manufacture of wine. Although the latter will not, for some years, bear due proportion to the area of our vineyards and the number of vines planted, owing to the circumstance that only the old-established vineyards produce anything like a fair yield per acre, sufficient is shown to prove that the wine of this Province will become, at no distant date, one of our greatest staples".

In 1896 in Queensland "The collection of schedules relating to agriculture and the manufacturing industries devolves upon the police, and, with but few exceptions, is carried out in a most painstaking and intelligent manner; but the absence of expert collectors, who would be qualified by experience to estimate the areas to be devoted to each kind of crop, and to form conclusions as to the probable results in anticipation of harvest, makes it hardly possible, with much prospect of success, to do more than obtain records of facts respecting the crops after they have been garnered".

In the Northern Territory in 1909 "Tobacco-growing is peculiarly suitable for men of small means, as the grower obtains a return for his labour within a few months of commencement; and for good quality leaf he has the world for a market at highly remunerative prices".

The following selection, reproduced from the Official Year Book of the Commonwealth of Australia, 1901-1907, provides a statistical snapshot of agriculture at the time. It complements the article A hundred years of Agriculture in Year Book Australia 2000.


LAND TENURE AND SETTLEMENT

First Grants of Land made In New South Wales, 1787
In the early days of Australian colonisation, land was alienated by grants and orders from the Crown, the power of making such being vested solely in the Governor, under instructions issued by the Secretary of State. The first instructions, issued on the 25th April, 1787, authorised the Governor to make grants only to liberated prisoners. The grant was to be free from all taxes, rents, fees, and other acknowledgments for the space of ten years, and for each unmarried male was not to exceed thirty acres; in case of a married man twenty acres more was allowed, and a further quantity of ten acres for each child living with his or her parents at the time of making such grant. By further instructions issued by the Secretary of State in 1789, the privilege of obtaining grants was extended to free migrants and to such of the men belonging to the detachment of marines serving in New South Wales - which then included the whole of the eastern part of Australia - as were desirous of settling in the colony; the maximum grant was not to exceed 100 acres, and was subject to a quit-rent of one shilling per annum for every fifty acres, to be paid within five years of the date of issue. In many cases these grants were made conditional upon a certain proportion of the land being cultivated, or upon certain services being regularly performed, but these conditions do not seem to have been enforced.


INITIATION AND GROWTH OF PASTORAL INDUSTRY

Early Statistics
The live stock which Captain Phillip brought with him when establishing the first settlement in Australia in 1788 is stated to have comprised seven horses, six cattle, twenty-nine sheep, twelve pigs, and a few goats. Later in the same year, in a letter from Captain Phillip to Lord Sydney, then Secretary of State for the Colonies, an enclosure signed by “Andrew Miller, Commissary", sets forth in detail the numbers of each kind of live stock in the colony on 1st May, 1788. A summary of the particulars supplied is as follows : - Horses, 7; cattle, 7; sheep, 29; pigs, 74; rabbits, 5; turkeys, 18; geese, 29; ducks, 35; fowls, 209. In view of the depredation since caused by rabbits their inclusion in this return as part of the live stock of the Commonwealth is of interest.


Increase in Numbers
Particulars concerning the numbers of each kind of live stock in the Commonwealth from 1860 to 1900 at quinquennial intervals, and thence onwards in single years, are given in the following table.

During the forty-six years covered by the table, the live stock of the Commonwealth increased considerably, horses by 309 per cent., cattle 136 per cent., sheep 316 per cent., and pigs 132 per cent. The annual increases which these aggregates represent are as follows : - Horses, 3.11 per cent. per annum; cattle, 1.89 per cent.; sheep, 3.15 per cent.; and pigs, 1.84 per cent.


COMMONWEALTH LIVE STOCK, 1860 to 1906(a)

Horses
Cattle
Sheep
Pigs

1860
431,525
3,957,915
20,135,286
351,096
1865
566,574
3,724,813
29,539,928
345,704
1870
716,772
4,276,326
41,593,612
543,388
1875
835,393
6,389,610
53,124,209
549,808
1880
1,068,402
7,527,142
62,186,702
815,776
1885
1,143,064
7,397,947
67,491,976
748,908
1890
1,521,588
10,299,913
97,881,221
891,138
1895
1,680,419
11,767,488
90,689,727
822,750
1900
1,609,654
8,640,225
70,602,995
950,349
1901
1,620,420
8,493,678
72,040,211
931,309
1902
1,524,601
7,067,242
53,668,347
777,289
1903
1,546,054
7,254,258
56,932,705
837,368
1904
1,595,256
7,849,520
65,823,918
1,062,703
1905
1,673,805
8,525,025
74,403,704
1,014,853
1906
1,765,186
9,349,409
83,687,655
813,569

(a) In early publications, and in this table, the year shown is the year prior to the one in which the number of livestock was actually measured (probably because, while measurement was done early in the year in most States, the time of measurement varied from State to State). From about 1940, publications reported the reference year as the year in which the measurement was taken, and historical series were amended to reflect this practice. Therefore the years shown in this table are one year earlier than the equivalent years shown in table 15.35 later in this chapter, which were drawn from Primary Industries Part I - Rural Industries 1961-62, Bulletin No. 56 (CBCS). The latter table also shows minor revisions to some of the numbers in this table.


POULTRY FARMING

Development of the lndustry
Until recently, poultry farming as a well organised industry could scarcely be said to exist, although in metropolitan and suburban districts poultry has of course long been kept for the table and egg supplies. The aggregate output, though considerable, represented relatively little value beyond the cost of production, owing to imperfect management. Many farmers also, both wheat-growers and dairymen, have maintained a large poultry stock, erecting poultry yards constructed on modern principles, and feeding from the stubble fields and waste grain with a minimum expenditure in tending. This brought about a considerable addition to the net agricultural or dairying return. The poultry industry during recent years has assumed an independent position among rural industries, notwithstanding that large numbers of poultry runs on wheat and dairy farms are still maintained; poultry farming is also carried on in conjunction with pig farming. In special poultry farms, breeding on scientific principles and a proper arrangement of the runs is secured, and feeding and reproduction are technically attended to, and proper shelter is provided either by means of trees or sheds. Poultry experts are engaged by the State Governments to instruct in matters that will amplify the returns. Poultry for consumption are extensively reared and the egg-producing qualities of the birds have also been greatly improved by careful breeding.


Early Attempts at Agriculture

The instructions issued to Captain Phillip on the 25th April, 1787, directed him, amongst other things, to proceed as soon as possible to the cultivation of the soil “under such regulations as may appear to be necessary and best calculated for securing supplies of grain and provisions". When the settlers landed at Botany Bay, however, it was found that the glowing accounts published in England by members of Captain Cook's expedition of the fertility of the soil in the vicinity of the existing settlement were considerably overdrawn. Even when Phillip and his company moved round to Port Jackson on the 26th January, 1788, matters were for a time in no better case. The ground in the immediate neighbourhood of the settlement was not suitable for the cultivation of cereal crops, and when the time came to cultivate the soil it was found that there were very few who possessed the slightest acquaintance with the art of husbandry.


Progress of Cultivation since 1860
The following table shows the area under cultivation in each of the Commonwealth States at various periods since 1860 and during each year of the period 1901-7. The area under artificially-sown grasses is excluded in all the States, except for the years 1860-79 in the case of New South Wales, where the acreage cannot be separated. During those years, however, the area laid down under permanent grasses could not have been very large.


AREA UNDER CROP IN AUSTRALIA, 1860-1 to 1906-7

New South Wales

Acres
Victoria

Acres
Queensland

Acres
South Australia

Acres
Western Australia

Acres
Tasmania

Acres
Commonwealth

Acres

1860-1
260,798
387,282
3,353
359,284
24,705
152,860
1,188,282
1965-6
378,255
448,194
14,414
547,124
38,180
159,547
1,585,714
1870-1
426,976
692,840
52,210
801,571
54,527
157,410
2,185,534
1875-6
451,139
736,520
77,347
1,111,882
47,571
142,547
2,567,006
1880-1
629,180
1,548,809
113,978
2,087,237
57,707
140,788
4,577,699
1885-6
737,701
1,867,496
198,334
2,298,412
60,058
144,761
5,306,762
1890-1
852,704
2,031,955
224,993
2,093,515
69,678
157,376
5,430,221
1895-6
1,348,600
2,413,235
285,319
2,092,942
97,821
212,703
6,450,620
1900-1
2,445,564
3,114,132
457,397
2,369,680
201,338
224,352
8,812,463
1901-2
2,278,370
2,965,681
483,460
2,236,552
217,441
232,550
8,414,054
1902-3
2,249,092
3,246,568
275,383
2,224,593
229,992
246,923
8,472,551
1903-4
2,545,940
3,389,069
566,589
2,256,824
283,752
259,611
9,301,785
1904-5
2,674,896
3,321,785
539,216
2,275,506
327,391
226,228
9,365,022
1905-6
2,840,235
3,219,962
522,748
2,255,569
364,704
230,237
9,433,455
1906-7
2,826,657
3,303,586
559,753
2,150,291
460,825
244,744
9,545,856



RELATIVE IMPORTANCE OF CROPS

Various Crops
The following table has been compiled in order to show the relative importance of the various crops in each State and in the Commonwealth as a whole. The figures refer to the season 1906-7.


DISTRIBUTION OF CROPS IN AUSTRALIA, 1906-7

New South Wales

Acres
Victoria

Acres
Queensland

Acres
South Australia

Acres
Western Australia

Acres
Tasmania

Acres
Commonwealth

Acres

Wheat
1,866,253
2,031,893
114,575
1,681,982
250,283
32,808
5,977,794
Oats
56,431
380,493
1,236
57,000
28,363
58,320
581,843
Barley
7,979
52,816
8,601
28,122
3,590
5,328
106,436
Maize
174,115
11,559
139,806
-
101
-
325,581
Beans and Peas
124
12,012
-
7,109
937
10,642
30,824
Rye
6,735
1,571
122
-
643
667
9,738
Other Cereals
-
-
24
-
-
134
158
Potatoes
36,815
55,372
8,031
9,894
2,264
34,305
146,681
Onions
422
4,705
88
-
54
109
5,378
Other Root Crops
327
2,073
3,632
-
120
5,994
12,146
Hay
458,072
621,139
64,498
295,895
149,830
64,965
1,654,399
Green Forage
122,893
36,502
50,513
17,985
3,265
5,326
236,484
Grass Seed
-
1,859
1,131
-
-
3,720
6,710
Sugar Cane
20,601
-
133,284
-
-
-
153,885
Vines
8,521
25,855
2,070
22,575
3,525
-
62,546
Tobacco
601
133
666
-
-
-
1,400
Hops
-
323
-
-
-
921
1,244
Orchards and Other Fruit Gardens
46,177
54,021
13,310
18,199
12,517
18,050
162,274
Market Gardens
9,550
7,906
1,953
8,379
3,789
2,210
33,787
All Other Crops
11,041
3,354
16,213
3,151
1 544
1,245
36,548
Total Crops
2,826,657
3,303,586
559,753
2,150,291
460,825
244,744
9,545,856



VINEYARDS

Nature and Extent
The introduction of the grape vine into Australia is said to have taken place in 1828, some forty years after the first settlement. The locality claiming to be the cradle of the vine-growing industry of Australia is the Hunter River district of New South Wales, where, in the year mentioned, cuttings from celebrated vineyards of France, Spain, and Germany were planted. From New South Wales the vine spread to Victoria and South Australia, and these States have now far outstripped the mother State in the area which they have devoted to its cultivation. In Queensland and Western Australia also, vine-growing has been carried on for many years, but in neither State, has the industry progressed with the rapidity attained in Victoria and South Australia. In Tasmania the climate is not favourable to the growth of grapes. The purposes for which grapes are grown in Australia are three in number, viz.: - (i.) for wine-making, (ii.) for table use, (iii.) for drying. The total area under vines in the several States from 1860 onwards is given in the following table.



COMMONWEALTH VINEYARDS, 1860-1 TO 1906-7

New South Wales

Acres
Victoria

Acres
Queensland

Acres
South
Australia

Acres
Western
Australia

Acres
Tasmania(a)

Acres
Commonwealth

Acres

1860-1
1,584
1,138
-
3,180
335
-
6,237
1865-6
2,126
4,078
110
6,629
634
-
13,577
1870-1
4,504
5,466
416
6,131
710
-
17,227
1875-6
4,459
5,081
376
4,972
675
-
15,563
1880-1
4,800
4,980
739
4,337
659
-
15,515
1885-6
5,247
9,775
1,483
5,142
624
-
22,271
1890-1
8,044
20,686
1,981
9,535
1,024
-
41,270
1895-6
7,519
30,275
2,021
17,604
2,217
-
59,636
1900-1
8,441
30,634
2,019
20,158
3,325
-
64,577
1901-2
8,606
28,592
1,990
20,860
3,629
-
63,677
1902-3
8,790
28,374
1,559
21,692
3,528
-
63,943
1903-4
8,940
28,513
2,069
22,617
3,324
-
65,463
1904-5
8,840
28,016
2,194
23,210
3,413
-
65,673
1905-6
8,754
26,402
2,044
23,603
3,541
-
64,344
1906-7
8,521
25,855
2,070
22,575
3,525
-
62,546

(a) There are no vineyards in Tasmania.


Wine Production
The production of wine in Australia has not increased as rapidly as the suitability of soil and general favourableness of conditions would appear to warrant. The cause of this is probably twofold, being in the first place due to the fact that the Australians are not a wine-drinking people and consequently do not provide a local market for this product, and in the second to the fact that the new and comparatively unknown wines of Australia find it difficult to establish a footing in the markets of the old world, owing to the competition of well-known brands. Active steps are being taken in various ways to bring the Australian wines under notice, and it may be confidently asserted that when their qualities are duly recognised the wine production of Australia will exhibit much more rapid development than has taken place within recent years.

MINOR CROPS

Nature and Extent
In addition to the leading crops, there are many others which, owing either to their nature or to the fact that their cultivation has advanced but little beyond the experimental stage, do not occupy so prominent a position. Some of the more important of these are those which may be classed under the heads of Market Gardens, Nurseries, Grass Seed, Tobacco, Hops, and Millet, while the possibilities of cotton growing in the tropical portions of the Commonwealth have in recent years received considerable attention, although the industry cannot yet be said to have assumed definite shape. The total area in the Commonwealth during the season 1906-7 devoted to crops of this nature was 79,689 acres, of which market gardens accounted for 38,787 acres.

Cotton
Cotton-growing on a small scale has been tried in Queensland, but so far without marked success. The area under cotton during the season 1905-6, viz., 171 acres, had fallen by 1906-7 to 138 acres. Hopes are entertained that with the invention of a mechanical device for the picking of the cotton the industry will become firmly established, since the soil and conditions appear eminently suitable for the growth of this crop. Small areas in the Northern Territory have also been planted with cotton, while the tropical portions of Western Australia have long been regarded as suitable for its cultivation.

Coffee
Queensland is the only State of the Commonwealth in which coffee-growing has been at all extensively tried, and here the results have up to the present time been far from satisfactory. The total area devoted to this crop reached its highest point in the season 1901-2, when 547 acres were recorded. Since then the area has continuously declined, and for 1906-7 amounted to only 256 acres.

Millet
Millet appears in the statistical records of three of the Commonwealth States, viz., New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland. The total area devoted thereto in 1905-6 was 4,323 acres, by far the greater portion, viz., 3,765 acres, being in New South Wales. The particulars here given relate to millet grown for grain and fibre. That grown for green forage is dealt with in the section relating thereto.


FERTILISERS

General
In the early days of settlement and cultivation in the Commonwealth scientific cultivation was in a much less developed state than to-day. The early farmers were neither under the necessity, nor were they as a rule aware of the need, of supplying the constituents to the soil demanded by each class of crop. The widely-divergent character of the soils in the Commonwealth, their degeneration by repeated cropping, the limitations of climatic conditions, the difficulties of following any desired order of rotation of crops, all rendered it necessary to give attention to artificial manuring. The introduction of the modern seed-drill, acting also as a fertiliser distributor, has greatly facilitated the use of artificial manures, and much land formerly regarded as useless for cultivation has now been made available. There is reason to believe that this feature will be even more strikingly characteristic of the future.

The words “fertiliser” or “manure" mean any substance containing nitrogen, phosphoric acid, or potash, manufactured, produced, or prepared in any manner for the purpose of fertilising the soil or supplying nutriment to plants, but do not include farm-yard or stable manure or similar articles in their natural or unmanufactured state. The Acts provide that every vendor of fertilisers shall, within a stated period, forward to the Secretary of Agriculture, or corresponding officer, samples of the fertilisers on sale by him, together with the distinctive name or brands by which they are known, and the price at which he intends to sell during the year. On every bag, package, or bundle of fertiliser sold, or exposed for sale, he must attach a printed label showing thereon: -

(i) The number of net pounds of fertiliser in such bag or parcel;
(ii) The figure or trade mark attached to the fertiliser and intended to identify it;
(iii) The proportion per centum of nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potash contained therein.

In addition to the above the vendor must furnish every purchaser with an invoice certificate, signed by himself or his agent, stating his full name and place of business and the quality of the fertiliser sold.

Any officer or analyst appointed under the Acts may enter any factory, warehouse, store, vessel, wharf, railway station, conveyance, or other place where fertiliser is manufactured, stored, exposed for sale, or in course of delivery or transit, and demand and take samples of such fertilisers. Every sample so taken must be divided by such officer into three parts, and each marked, sealed and fastened by him in the presence of the person in charge, and disposed of as follows: -

(i) One part to be taken by person in charge.
(ii) One part to be used for analysis.
(iii) One part to be retained by the officer for future comparison.

Every buyer of fertiliser is entitled to submit a sample of such to the analyst appointed under the Act, and receive a certificate of the analysis of such. If the analysis prove it to be under what it is represented to be, the vendor must pay the cost of analysis.



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