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4618.0 - Water Use on Australian Farms, 2005-06 (Preliminary)  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/08/2007   
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NOTES


BACKGROUND

The agriculture industry is a major consumer of water in the Australian economy. The Water Account, Australia 2004-05 (cat. no. 4610.0) showed agriculture to account for 65% of all water consumed in 2004-05.


This publication presents preliminary estimates of agricultural water use, pastures and crops irrigated, and sources of water used for agriculture at a national and state/territory level compiled from data collected as part of the Agricultural Census for the year ended 30 June 2006. Estimates for 2002-03, 2003-04 and 2004-05 are also included in this publication of total water use for Australia and states/territories.


Final estimates at the national, state/territory and regional level will be released in December 2007.


Climatic conditions affect both the availability of water for irrigation and the need to irrigate in order to supplement rainfall. Information from the Bureau of Meteorology outlining climatic conditions over key agricultural areas between July 2005 and June 2006 are presented as an appendix.



CHANGES IN THIS ISSUE

Move to a new register of agricultural businesses


Prior to running the 2005-06 Agricultural Census, the ABS had maintained its own register of agricultural establishments. For the 2005-06 Agricultural Census, the ABS has adopted a new frame based on the Australian Taxation Office's Australian Business Register (ABR). The ABR-based register used for the 2005-06 Agricultural Census has improved the coverage of agricultural businesses and is easier to maintain.


Due to the adoption of a new register of agricultural businesses and differences in data compilation methodology for the Agricultural Census, the 2005-06 estimates are not directly comparable with historical time series.


To provide users with a way of comparing the 2005-06 estimates with historical time series, the ABS has prepared two sets of 2005-06 estimates. 'New-basis' estimates have been prepared to represent the start of a new water use series, and these have been subjected to rigorous analysis and testing. 'Old-basis' estimates have been prepared to provide a best judgement approximation to what the various water estimates may have been if the ABS had continued to use the previous ABS-maintained list of establishments (with its associated statistical methodologies) to conduct the 2005-06 Agricultural Census. Due to the complexities involved in collecting, processing and estimating 'old-basis' data from a 'new-basis' framework, the 'old-basis' 2005-06 estimates and the movements between 2004-05 and 2005-06 should be considered indicative only.



INQUIRIES

For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.



SUMMARY COMMENTARY


AGRICULTURAL WATER USE

In 2005-06, Australian agricultural establishments used 11,905 gigalitres of water for agricultural production. Of this, 10,845 gigalitres (91.1%) was used for the irrigation of pastures and crops, and 1,060 gigalitres (8.9%) was used for other agricultural purposes such as stock watering and the cleaning of dairies and piggeries.

1.1 AGRICULTURAL WATER USE, By State - 2005-06

WATER USE
Agricultural
establishments
Irrigation
Other
agricultural
uses
Total
no.
ML
ML
ML

NSW(a)
48 550
4 472 617
284 166
4 756 784
Vic.
36 993
2 470 542
217 874
2 688 415
Qld
32 871
2 435 215
279 654
2 714 868
SA
16 457
927 264
93 342
1 020 606
WA
14 816
317 703
144 860
462 563
Tas.
4 716
201 822
26 643
228 465
NT
648
19 546
13 621
33 167
Aust.
155 052
10 844 708
1 060 161
11 904 869

(a) Includes ACT.


In all states and territories, irrigation was the major use of water by the agricultural sector. In New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, irrigation accounted for 94.0%, 91.9% and 89.7% of agricultural water use respectively, while in the Northern Territory and Western Australia other agricultural uses accounted for 41.1% and 31.3% of total agricultural water use respectively.



IRRIGATION WATER USE

At the Australian level, 45,130 or 29.1% of agricultural establishments reported using water for irrigation purposes. Increases in the number of agricultural establishments using water for irrigation purposes, and the increase in total number of agricultural establishments to 155,052, reflects the inclusion of additional agricultural establishments in the new ABR-based register of agricultural establishments.


At the state/territory level, the Northern Territory reported the highest proportion of farms irrigating (54.3%), followed by Tasmania (40.6%) and South Australia (38.4%). Western Australia reported the smallest percentage of farms irrigating (21.9%).


Victoria had 25.8% of the nations irrigating establishments, followed by New South Wales (25.3%) and Queensland (22.6%).


New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland continued to be the major users of water for irrigation, accounting for 86.5% of all water used for irrigation purposes nationally. New South Wales used 4,473 gigalitres (41.2% of all water used for irrigation purposes nationally) followed by Victoria with 2,471 gigalitres (22.8%) and Queensland with 2,435 gigalitres (22.5%). Across Australia, 2,583,000 hectares of agricultural land was irrigated at an average application rate of 4.2 ML/ha. This application rate was unchanged from the previous year.


In New South Wales, 986,000 hectares of agricultural land was irrigated (38.2%% of irrigated agricultural land nationally), followed by Victoria with 657,000 hectares (25.4%) and Queensland with 572,000 hectares (22.1%). Combined, these three eastern states accounted for 85.7% of irrigated agricultural land nationally.


Western Australia had the highest application rate for irrigated agricultural land at 5.1  ML/ha followed by New South Wales (4.5 ML/ha) and Queensland (4.3 ML/ha). Tasmania had the lowest application rate at 2.5 ML/ha, followed by the Northern Territory (3.3 ML/ha).

1.2 IRRIGATION ACTIVITY, By State - 2002-03 to 2005-06

Agricultural establishments
Agricultural
establishments
irrigating
Area of
agricultural
holding
Area
irrigated
Volume
applied
Application
rate
no.
no.
'000 ha
'000 ha
ML
ML/ha

Australia
Old basis(a)
2002-03
132 983
43 774
439 531
2 378
10 403 759
4.4
2003-04
130 526
40 400
440 110
2 402
10 441 515
4.3
2004-05
129 934
35 244
445 149
2 405
10 084 596
4.2
New basis(b)
2005-06
155 052
45 130
444 077
2 583
10 844 708
4.2
2005-06
New basis(b)
NSW(c)
48 550
11 413
61 180
986
4 472 617
4.5
Vic.
36 993
11 658
13 364
657
2 470 542
3.8
Qld
32 871
10 220
155 571
572
2 435 215
4.3
SA
16 457
6 322
55 526
219
927 264
4.2
WA
14 816
3 249
99 096
62
317 703
5.1
Tas.
4 716
1 917
1 764
80
201 822
2.5
NT
648
352
57 574
6
19 546
3.3

(a) Derived using old ABS-maintained frame. See Technical Note for detail.
(b) Derived using new ABR-based register. See Technical Note for detail.
(c) Includes ACT.


At the Australian level, the major crop by volume of irrigation water applied remained pasture for grazing, using 2,871 gigalitres with an average application rate of 3.5 ML/ha. This was followed by cotton (1,746 gigalitres at an application rate of 6.3 ML/ha), rice (1,230 gigalitres at an application rate of 12.3 ML/ha) and sugar cane (1,104 gigalitres at an application rate of 5.0 ML/ha). Pasture for grazing accounted for 26.5% of all irrigation water use nationally, followed by cotton (16.1%), rice (11.3%) and sugar cane (10.2%).


In New South Wales, rice and cotton continued to be the major users of irrigation water accounting for 27.0% and 25.0% of the state total and 11.2% and 10.3% of the national total respectively.


In Queensland, sugar cane remained the major user of irrigation water, accounting for 42.7% of the Queensland total and 9.6% of the national total.


Pasture for grazing remained the major user of irrigation water in Victoria, using 63.4% of the Victorian total and 14.4% of the national total.


Irrigation of fruit trees, nut trees, plantation or berry fruits accounted for 64.8% of irrigation water in the Northern Territory.



WATER SOURCES

Across most of Australia, surface water remained the major source of water for agricultural purposes, totalling 9,074 gigalitres or 76.2% of all water used for agricultural purposes.


In South Australia and the Northern Territory, groundwater remained a more significant source of water, accounting for 47.3% of water used for agricultural purposes in South Australia and 69.5% in the Northern Territory. Across Australia, groundwater totalled 2,524 gigalitres or 21.2% of all water used for agricultural purposes.


Recycled or re-used water from off farm sources accounted for less than 1% of water used by agriculture.


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