4618.0 - Water Use on Australian Farms, 2015-16 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/07/2017   
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WATER USE ON AUSTRALIAN FARMS, year ended 30 June 2016

PASTURES AND CROPS IRRIGATED
AUSTRALIA

Agricultural businesses
Agricultural businesses irrigating
Area under pasture or crop
Area watered
Volume applied
Application rate
no.
no.
ha
'000
ha
'000
ML
'000
ML/ha
TOTAL
2010-11
93 344
28 463
388 994
1 838
6 326
3.4
2014-15
84 729
27 808
365 913
2 056
8 645
4.2
2015-16
85 681
22 690
371 078
2 148
8 381
3.9
Pasture, cereal and other crops used for grazing
61 391
6 425
312 224
576
1 671
2.9
Pasture, cereal and other crops cut for hay
24 095
3 364
1 775
162
532
3.3
Pasture, cereal and other crops cut for silage
5 958
1 249
401
68
176
2.6
Rice
335
335
27
26
317
12.1
Other cereals for grain or seed
25 053
2 026
16 928
363
687
1.9
Cotton
684
633
280
211
1 432
6.8
Sugar cane
3 341
1 839
447
230
1 296
5.6
Other broadacre crops
12 388
988
4 330
96
220
2.3
Fruit trees, nut trees, plantation or berry fruits
4 982
4 093
170
149
967
6.5
Vegetables for human consumption or seed
3 741
3 182
118
108
429
4.0
Nurseries, cut flowers and cultivated turf
1 880
1 625
15
13
60
4.6
Grapevines
3 749
3 377
136
123
504
4.1



Graph Image for Irrigation Activity by Commodity

KEY POINTS
  • Nationally, the number of agricultural businesses irrigating decreased 18% to 22,700. New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia all fell by 21%, driven largely by decreases in areas for cropping particularly for rice, wheat, sorghum and canola. Reduced water allocations also contributed to the decline.
  • Pasture, cereal and other crops for grazing accounted for the largest area of crops irrigated during the 2015-16 period with 575,700 hectares, down 10% from the previous year. This decrease was primarily driven by a large fall in Victoria, down 19% to 346,500 hectares.
  • Both the area irrigated and volume of water applied increased noticeably for cotton in 2015-16. Nationally the area irrigated increased from 160,500 hectares to 211,300 hectares (up 32%) and volume of water applied increased 20% from 1.2 million to 1.4 million megalitres. New South Wales continues to be main contributing state, reporting large increases due to farmers switching from growing rice to cotton in 2015-16.
  • Other increases in volumes applied were sugar cane (up 17%) and fruit and nuts (up 38%). These increases were offset by decreases in volume applied for pastures and cereals for grazing or fed off (down 23%), other cereal crops (down 15%) and rice (down 63%).