4610.0 - Water Account, Australia, 2009-10 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/11/2011   
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Contents >> Agriculture >> Introduction and main findings

Image: Crops



This section examines the consumption of water by the Agriculture industry. Water used in agriculture includes water applied through the irrigation of crops and pastures, or fed to livestock. Water can be directly extracted from the environment by farmers (e.g. from bores, on-farm dams, rivers) or supplied by water providers (e.g. irrigation authorities). The consumption of direct rainfall water is not included in this section. Since Agriculture does not use water in-stream, or supply water to other users, total water use is equal to water consumption.

Users often find additional value in analysing water use information related to agricultural activities/commodities - these data are provided in the Appendix. Editions of the Water Account Australia (WAA) prior to 2008–09 presented an activity view of agriculture and are directly comparable to the data in the Appendix.

To calculate the amount of water consumed by the Agriculture industry, the ABS has used data on:
  • water supplied to agriculture from the ABS Water Supply and Sewerage Services Survey 2009–10;
  • water consumption, irrigated area and livestock numbers from the ABS 2009–10 Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS);
  • additional information available from State and Territory agricultural departments and research institutions.

Additional detail on the methodology is found in the Explanatory Notes.


The main findings of this section are:
  • Water consumption by businesses with agriculture as their main activity (i.e. the Agriculture industry) was 6,987 GL in 2009–10, representing 95% of total agricultural water consumption (7,359 GL). This is virtually unchanged from 6,996 GL in 2008–09.
  • The Agriculture industry accounted for 52% of total Australian water consumption in 2009–10.
  • Sheep, beef cattle and grain farming (2,649 GL or 38%) had the highest water consumption of the ANZSIC groups within the Agriculture industry in 2009–10, followed by Other crop growing (1,409 GL or 20%), Dairy cattle farming (1,216 GL or 17%) and Fruit and tree nut growing (1,116 GL or 16%).
  • Self-extracted water consumption by the Agriculture industry in 2009–10 was 3,215 GL, distributed water consumption (e.g. supplied by irrigation authorities) was 3,646 GL, and reuse water consumption was 126 GL.

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