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WATER USE ON QUEENSLAND FARMS, 2006-07
AGRICULTURAL WATER USE
In 2006-07, Queensland agricultural businesses used 2,084 gigalitres of water for agricultural production. This represents 24% of the national agricultural water use.
Of this total 2,084 gigalitres, 88% (1,840 gigalitres) was used for the irrigation of pastures and crops and 12% (244 gigalitres) was used for other agricultural purposes such as stock watering and the cleaning of dairies and piggeries. Volumes of irrigation water for crops and pastures declined by 21% from 2005–06, and volumes of water for other agricultural purposes declined by 4.6%.
IRRIGATION WATER USE
In Queensland, 29% of agricultural businesses reported using water for irrigation in 2006-07, a decline from the 31% reporting the use of water for irrigation in 2005-06. A total of 458,000 hectares was irrigated in 2006-07, a 15% decrease from that irrigated in 2005-06. The average application rate reduced from 4.3 megalitres per hectare (ML/ha) in 2005-06 to 4.0 ML/ha in 2006-07. After Western Australia (5.5 ML/ha) and South Australia (4.8 ML/ha), Queensland had the third highest application rate of irrigation water.
In 2006-07, sugar cane remained the major user of irrigation water, using 931 gigalitres, or 51% of the Queensland total. This represents a decrease of 5.8% from the total volume of water applied to sugar cane in 2005-06.
Of the 245 agricultural businesses engaged in the production of cotton, 88% reported using water for irrigation. In 2006-07, cotton used 194 gigalitres, a decrease of 68% from the 607 gigalitres used in irrigation in 2005-06. Cotton (5.5 ML/ha) had the highest application rate of pastures and crops irrigated in Queensland.
Nationally, in 2006-07, more water for agriculture was sourced from Government or private irrigation schemes than from any other source. This was similar in Queensland, where a total of 757 gigalitres, or 36% of the volume of water used for agricultural purposes, was supplied by Government or private irrigation schemes.
Surface water accounted for 33% of the total volume of water from all sources in 2006-07 for Queensland and groundwater accounted for a further 29%.
Sources of Agricultural Water, 2006-07
In 2006-07, 461 agricultural businesses (1.5% of all Queensland agricultural businesses) reported purchasing extra irrigation water on a temporary basis. The volume of extra water purchased on a temporary basis was 98 gigalitres at a cost of $8.5 million.
Only 119 agricultural businesses in Queensland reported selling water on a temporary basis. The volume of water sold on a temporary basis was 25 gigalitres for $1.2 million.
Note: Queensland data relating to the purchasing and selling of water on a temporary basis are based on estimates with an Relative Standard Error of 10% to less than 25% and should be used with caution.
IRRIGATION WATER MANAGEMENT
In Queensland, hose irrigation was the most common irrigation method (2,316 agricultural businesses or 26% of all irrigating agricultural businesses) followed by surface irrigation (18%) and microspray sprinklers (18%).
Nationally, one in four (25%) irrigating agricultural businesses used above ground drip or trickle irrigation, while in Queensland this method was used by 15% or 1,339 agricultural businesses.
Irrigation Methods, 2006-07
In 2006-07, the irrigation method covering the largest area of land in Queensland was surface irrigation, irrigating 193,000 hectares. Hose irrigators were used to irrigate 110,000 hectares, large mobile machine sprinklers 43,000 hectares, above ground drip or trickle irrigation 25,000 hectares and microspray sprinklers 24,000 hectares. Note: Queensland data relating to large mobile machine sprinklers is based on an estimate with a Relative Standard Error of 10% to less than 25% and should be used with caution.
In Queensland, 4,043 agricultural businesses or nearly one-half (46%) of irrigating agricultural businesses, reported making one or more changes to their irrigation practices in 2006-07. Adoption of more efficient irrigation techniques was the most common change (44% of agricultural businesses that made one or more changes), followed by adoption of more efficient irrigation scheduling (37%) and reducing the area of irrigation (34%).
The most common changes to irrigation practices intended to be made after 30 June 2007 in Queensland were the adoption of more efficient irrigation techniques and the adoption of more efficient irrigation scheduling (reported by 1,431 and 1,090 agricultural businesses respectively).
In 2006-07, 6,801 Queensland agricultural businesses reported barriers to changing their irrigation practices. The most common barrier reported was lack of financial resources, reported by 56% of all agricultural businesses reporting barriers to change.
IRRIGATION EXPENDITURE AND ASSETS
In 2006-07, Queensland agricultural businesses spent $265 million on irrigation related expenditure. The largest expenditure reported was irrigation operating expenses other than the costs associated with the purchase of water ($104 million or 39%). Such expenses include pump running expenses, fuel, electricity, repairs and maintenance and other similar expenses. The purchase of irrigation equipment was the next largest irrigation expenditure ($60 million or 23%).
The value of irrigation equipment and infrastructure on Queensland agricultural establishments in 2006-07 was $2,389 million.
More information on this topic can be found in the following ABS publications.
Water Use on Australian Farms, 2006-07 (cat. no. 4618.0)
Water and the Murray-Darling Basin - A Statistical Profile, 2000-01 to 2005-06 (cat. no. 4610.0.55.007)
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