4618.0 - Water Use on Australian Farms, 2005-06 (Preliminary)  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/08/2007   
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August 14, 2007
Embargoed 11.30 am (AEST)

Grazing pastures have highest water use on Australian farms: ABS

Grazing pasture irrigation accounted for more than a quarter of the water used on crops and pastures during 2005-06, according to preliminary statistics released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

A total of 811,000 hectares of grazing pasture were irrigated, with an average application rate of 3.5 megalitres per hectare - totalling 2,871 gigalitres, 26% of the 10,845 gigalitres applied to crops and pasture.

Cotton was the next biggest user of irrigation water, totalling 1,746 gigalitres, followed by rice with 1,230 gigalitres and sugar cane, 1,104 gigalitres.

Rice used the most water per hectare, with an application rate of 12.3 megalitres per hectare, almost double the rate of cotton, which was the next highest crop at 6.3 megalitres per hectare.

Victoria accounted for more than half of the water used for grazing pasture irrigation nationally. The 1,566 gigalitres was nearly two thirds of all Victoria's irrigation.

New South Wales used the largest volume of water for irrigation of all states and territories with 4,473 gigalitres, (or 41% of the national total) - about half of this was for rice and cotton.

Sugar cane used the most irrigation water in Queensland - 1,041 gigalitres, and the next biggest use was cotton with 626 gigalitres.

In South Australia, pasture for grazing was the most irrigated crop, with 265 gigalitres, followed by grapevines, 226 gigalitres. Pasture for grazing was also the most irrigated crop in Western Australia and Tasmania, while fruit accounted for the largest volume in the Northern Territory.

More details can be found in Water Use on Australian Farms Preliminary 2005-06 (cat. no. 4618.0).

Media Note:
1 Gigalitre (GL) = One thousand million litres, or a volume of approximately 444 Olympic swimming pools.
1 Megalitre (ML) = One million litres, or a volume of approximately half an Olympic swimming pool.
Care should be taken in making comparisons with previous years due to changes in the Agricultural Census collection method.