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FEATURE ARTICLE: BURNETT MARY NRM REGION
Additionally, a combined presentation that draws together data from these base accounts is included for 2015-16. Data are sourced from table 26 and 27 in the Downloads tab. At present, as with the national SEEA AFF accounts, there are data gaps that will require further investigation for future releases.
SELECTED MEASURES FOR THE BURNETT MARY REGION
Agriculture relies on the natural environmental and economic inputs to generate produce. The more productive a region is suggests the presence of sufficient inputs for a productive industry. The region's ability to manage the use of these inputs over time could help ensure sustainable future income. The SEEA AFF highlights a number of direct environmental and economic inputs into agriculture: land, fertilisers, energy, water and labour. A set of accounts using this framework could assist in balancing the needs of agriculture dependent regions like the Burnett Mary with those of the community and the environment.
This section draws in some of the ecosystems that are an integral part of agriculture, as a brief example to demonstrate the opportunities for profiling a region under the full SEEA AFF framework.
Two maps are included in this article to visualise data for the Burnett Mary NRM region. A land cover map based on the National Vegetation Information System (Department of the Environment and Energy) displays cleared and not cleared land cover. A land use map based on Australian Land Use and Management (ALUM) Classification (ABARES) displays land used for agricultural (including forestry) and non-agricultural purposes.
The referenced land account tables are sourced from the ABS Land Account: Great Barrier Reef Region, Experimental Estimates, 2014 (cat. no. 4609.0.55.001). Please see the Explanatory Notes section for further information on the methodology and data sources used for both maps and land accounts.
The level of cleared and not-cleared land for both natural and economic purposes has been included in Map 1. Significant quantities of area have some degree of land cover that is not-cleared, some of these areas include natural reserves such as Fraser Island. These figures are not an indication of the underpinning habitat or ecosystems, rather the amount of cover at the time the images were taken (2010-11). It is useful to note that 2010-11 was a significantly wet period and vegetation stocks may be over represented compared to other years.
Map 1: Land Cover, Clearing status, Burnett Mary NRM 2009-2011
The asset account for land cover (Table 26.2 in the Downloads tab) describes opening and closing stock, as well as changes to different types of land cover between 2008-09 and 2010-11 (based on the Geoscience Australia Dynamic Land Cover Dataset). This dataset summarises Earth surface observations to provide a dominant land cover class. Over the time period there was a 25% increase in the land used for Rainfed pastures and a 23% increase for Irrigated pastures. Comparatively there was a 29% decrease in Rainfed cropping and 12% decrease in the land cover of Irrigated cropping.
Agriculture is the predominant industry in the region and uses the most land (Map 2). Many of the non-agricultural areas correspond to reserves, national parks and urban environments. For the purposes of SEEA AFF agricultural land use includes land used for forestry.
Map 2: Land Use, Agriculture, Burnett Mary NRM, 2010-11
The asset account for land use (Table 26.1 in the Downloads tab) describes opening and closing stock, as well as changes to different types of land use between 2009 and 2013 (based on State of Queensland land valuations data). In the Burnett Mary NRM, 77% of the land was used for agricultural purposes in 2013, the majority of which was used for Livestock grazing (89%). Between 2009 and 2013 the amount of land used for Agricultural cropping decreased by 12% (35,000 hectares), the largest decrease of any of the agricultural land uses.
Between 2010-11 and 2015-16, Burnett Mary NRM consolidated its reputation as a predominantly sugar cane and beef cattle farming area. In 2015-16, Burnett Mary yielded 3.7 million tonnes of sugar, with an estimated value of $137 million (9% of agricultural production in the region). Meat cattle contributed 30% of the total gross value of agricultural production in the NRM, with an estimated value of $444 million - doubling its value over the five year period. Access to open areas is vital for raising cattle, though it is difficult to identify land use specifically for cattle with current data. Sugar cane is grown in the area due to the region's access to water. Sugar cane uses the most water (41,500 ML or 53% of agricultural use) for the region. Notably, Burnett Mary is developing its fruit and nut crop activity, with both macadamia and mandarin plantations increasing by around 10% during 2015-16 alone.
Value of Production and Employment
The combined presentation in Table 27.1 on the Download tab enables the analysis of key economic indicators including gross value and employment.
Graph 1 shows the gross value of selected commodities per the number of employees (based on 2016 Census of Population and Housing estimates). This is not an indicator of salary per employee and does not take into account the variety of expenses that are part of agricultural production beyond employee expenses. In the Burnett Mary NRM, pig meat production (over $600,000 per employee) is the highest return per employee. Both sugar cane and meat cattle occupy larger scale land holdings and infrastructure within the Burnett Mary which could in part be attributed to a need for more employees and a lower overall return per employee.
GRAPH 1. GROSS VALUE OF PRODUCTION PER EMPLOYEE, Selected industries, Burnett Mary NRM region, 2015-16
Over the accounting period, meat cattle was clearly the dominant commodity in terms of value, increasing by 98% between 2010-11 and 2015-16 (Graph 2). By contrast, the value generated from dairy cattle decreased by 10% over the same period.
GRAPH 2. GROSS VALUE, Selected commodities, Burnett Mary NRM region, 2010-11 to 2015-16
According to the 2016 Census of Population and Housing the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry employed an estimated 9,153 people in the Burnett Mary NRM region, which accounted for 3% of total employment in the region. Meat cattle recorded the largest employment count throughout the agriculture industry in Burnett Mary, employing an estimated 2,532 people (32% of total) as of June 2016. Sugar cane had the most employees from the selected crops analysed. Employment in fishing, hunting and trapping was small in comparison to agriculture within the region (Graph 3).
GRAPH 3. NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES, selected industries, Burnett Mary NRM region, 2015-16
Physical flow accounts
The physical flow account for crops in the Burnett Mary NRM (Table 27.2) shows that sugar cane contributed the majority of physical crop production in the region. In 2015-16, nearly 3.7 million tonnes of sugar were produced, which was substantially higher than the second largest produced crop, mandarins, which produced an estimated 73,000 tonnes. From 2014-15 to 2015-16 sugar production increased by 25%, following a 13% decrease from the two preceding years (Graph 4).
GRAPH 4. PHYSICAL PRODUCTION FOR SUGAR CANE, Burnett Mary NRM region, 2010-11 to 2015-16
The livestock physical flow account (Tables 27.13 and 27.14 in the Downloads tab) indicates an 11% reduction in meat cattle products from 2014-15 to 2015-16. In 2015-16, an estimated 287,000 total cattle left the farm for slaughter. There is also significant milk and pig meat production in the Burnett Mary NRM. The amount of sheep products produced within the region, both in terms of meat and wool, are smaller overall than for beef cattle.
The 2015-16 asset account for plantations in the Burnett Mary NRM (Table 27.8 in the Downloads tab) shows that the physical production of sugar uses the most land of all agricultural crops in the region. In 2015-16, sugar cane covered 42,035 ha of land, a net increase of 3,748 ha and the largest net increase of any plantation in the region (Graph 5).
GRAPH 5. NET CHANGE IN PLANTATION AREA, selected crops, Burnett Mary NRM region, 2015-16 (a)
In terms of total tree numbers, macadamias have the most trees, followed by mandarins. In the 2015-16 asset account, macadamias also had the largest increase in stock, from 2,304,498 trees in 2014-15 to 2,532,448 trees in 2015-16, an increase of 10%. Mandarin trees had the second largest increase of 91,094 trees, or 9% during the same period, whilst the number of avocado trees fell by 3%.
The asset account for livestock for 2015-16 shows that beef cattle remained the most numerous livestock on holdings in the Burnett Mary region. The number of beef cattle remained stable throughout the year, with a slight 1% decrease (or 6,500 head of cattle) in stock (Graph 6). The stock of dairy cattle and pigs increased by 5,000 (17%) and 29,000 (22%), respectively.
GRAPH 6. NET CHANGE IN LIVESTOCK NUMBERS %, Burnett Mary NRM region, 2015-16 (a)
Biodiversity is a key factor in overall agricultural security. For instance, many of the crops grown and harvested commercially in areas like Burnett Mary NRM are reliant on the crop pollination services of insects. Management of pollinator habitats in the agricultural landscape assist to ensure productive food crops.
The main plantation food crops in the Burnett Mary NRM are sugar cane, mandarins, macadamias, and avocados (Table 27.1 in the Downloads tab). Sugar cane is a wind-pollinated crop, but the rest require specific pollinators. Macadamias, avocados and possibly citrus benefit from the pollinator services of native stingless bees. Macadamias and avocados additionally benefit from the pollination services of other invertebrates like wasps, butterflies and hoverflies.
Additionally, research suggests that the pest control services of insectivores beneficially influences crop quality. Insectivores important to the Burnett Mary NRM include the Straw-necked Ibis and Nankeen Kestrel. Of the selected insectivores for this NRM, 28 species are deemed to be decreasing by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, 34 species are considered stable and 14 species are increasing (Table 26.4). Linkages between insectivore habitat management and crop quality outcomes for regions such as Burnett Mary could be better understood with further development of these accounts.
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