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FERTILISERS AND PESTICIDES
GRAPH 1. NITROGEN BASED FERTILISERS APPLIED, selected fertilisers, Australia, 2011-12 to 2015-16
Graph 2 shows that Other grain growing (ANZSIC Class 0149) applied the most amount of nitrogen based fertilisers in 2015-16. The Other grain growing industry class includes non-rice cereal and coarse grain crops such as wheat, barley, maize, oats and sorghum. Care should be taken when interpreting this graph, as for example “Other grain growing” has a significantly larger business count and area of holding than “Floriculture Production” (lowest tonnes applied and therefore not in this graph). A more relevant measure might be application rate of tonnes per hectare; however for the data in question the relevant area applied was not available at the time of this report.
GRAPH 2. TOTAL NITROGEN BASED FERTILISERS APPLIED, by ANZSIC class, 2015-16
Lime and dolomite are the most commonly used soil enhancers and are used to ameliorate soil acidity, improve soil structure, and improve plant growth (Graph 3).
GRAPH 3. SOIL ENHANCERS APPLIED, selected enhancers, Australia, 2011-12 to 2015-16
The use of fertilisers became a significant topic of interest in 2009 with the emergence of the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) and also the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory. While flows to the atmosphere are not captured in this account, the GHG physical flow accounts presents data on carbon dioxide equivalent emissions from agricultural activities including use of fertilisers and liming. Lime and dolomite use in soils leads to carbon dioxide emissions as carbonate reacts with acid in the soils to produce bicarbonate and eventually leading to the production of CO2 and water. While increased use of lime can increase carbon dioxide emissions, there is evidence to suggest increasing soil pH via liming can decrease nitrous oxide fluxes from sandy, acidic soils following summer rainfall (footnote 1).
GRAPH 4. APPLICATION OF LIME AND DOLOMITE AND EMISSIONS FROM LIMING, Australia, 2011-12 to 2014-15
Urea can provide an essential source of soil nitrogen and similarly to lime and dolomite, forms a bicarbonate which eventually leads to the production of carbon dioxide and water. Graph 5 shows greenhouse gas emissions from the application of urea and application from 2011-12 to 2014-15.
GRAPH 5. UREA APPLICATION AND GHG EMISSIONS FROM THE APPLICATION, 2011-12 to 2014-15, Australia
Data on pesticides are not readily available, however Table 23 from the Downloads tab presents an empty shell table of the information that would be required and presented in this account.
MEASUREMENT GAPS AND OPPORTUNITIES
The ABS has collected fertiliser and agricultural land management practices data though the Land Management Practices Survey (LaMPS) and the Rural Environment and Agricultural Commodities Survey (REACS) since 2011. The LaMPS fertiliser data is more comprehensive than that of the REACS data. However, the LaMPS occurs biennially, so detailed data is not available for every collection cycle. Additionally, the scope for LaMPS changed after the 2014-15 collection cycle. Previously, agricultural businesses with an Estimated Value of Agricultural Operation (EVAO) of at least $5,000 were selected, but from 2014-15, businesses required an EVAO of $40,000 or more to be in scope. Therefore while data is available for all cycles from 2011, direct comparison of fertiliser data over this full time period is problematic.
The physical flows account calls for a disaggregation of fertilisers applied by specific commodity (e.g. wheat, sugar, maize). In Australia the ABS classifies businesses by their main agricultural activity based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) classes. This groups many similar crops together - for example Class 0149 Other Grain Growing includes but is not limited to wheat, maize, field pea and bean, and other cereal grain growing. Some crops, such as rice and sugar cane, have their own class. Specific commodity based data is available for rice and sugar cane, while other commodities are more broadly grouped. Further work will be undertaken to consider how to most effectively group these commodities.
(1) Barton, L., Murphy, D.V., Butterbach-Bahl, K. (2016). Nitrous oxide fluxes from cropping soils in a semi-arid region in Australia: A 10 year perspective. Proceedings of the 2016 International Nitrogen Initiative Conference, "Solutions to improve nitrogen use efficiency for the world", 2-8 December 2016, Melbourne Australia. http://www.ini2016.com/pdf-papers/INI2016_Barton_Louise.pdf <back
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