7101.0 - Ag Mag - The Agriculture Newsletter, Dec 2009  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/12/2009   
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Ag Mag | the agriculture newsletter


In early 2009, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) was asked by the Australian Government Reef Rescue program to conduct a survey to provide a baseline of the current agricultural land management practices occurring in 28 of the 30 catchments draining into the Great Barrier Reef. This program is a component of the Australian Government's Caring for Our Country natural resource management initiative.

The adoption of improved land management practices in these catchments is a critical factor in achieving improvements in the quality of water discharged to the Great Barrier Reef. Identifying patterns in the adoption of land management practices to reduce run-off of nutrients, pesticides and sediments, and changes in practices over time, will assist in the assessment of progress towards long term improvements on the reef.

Land Management Practices Survey questionnaires were sent to 4,502 rural holdings where the primary land use was either sugar growing, horticulture, broadacre cropping or beef cattle grazing. This sample represented 43% of the agricultural land in-scope of the survey. The self-completed mail out form comprised questions covering land use, soil testing fertiliser use, chemical use and surface water practices, as well as questions relating to the agricultural activities of the land holders.

Each form despatched to respondents included a map of their land holdings. The inclusion of personalised maps in each form assisted accurate reporting of data and provided survey respondents with a clear understanding of the areas they were expected to report on. This approach engaged the interest of respondents and hence boosted the response rate, which in this case reached 90%.

Results of the survey will be released on the ABS web site on 22 December 2009 in the publication Land Management Practices in the Great Barrier Reef Catchment (cat. no 4619.0). Further information about the collection and the publication can be obtained from Eric Morris on 02 6252 7332.