4618.0 - Water Use on Australian Farms, 2005-06  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 13/03/2008   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All


March 13, 2008
Embargoed 11.30 am (AEDT)
A quarter of all irrigation water used on pastures

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

A total of 814,000 hectares of grazing pasture were irrigated, using an average rate of 3.5 megalitres per hectare. The total volume of water applied to grazing pastures was 2,888 gigalitres (27% of the 10,737 gigalitres for all crops and pasture).

Cotton was the next biggest user of irrigation water, using 16% of water used on crops and pastures, followed by rice using 12% and sugar cane using 10%.

Rice used the most water per hectare, using a rate of 12.3 megalitres per hectare, almost double the rate of cotton, which was the next highest crop at 6.4 megalitres per hectare.

Surface water is still the major source of water used by agriculture in most states and territories, accounting for 77% of all water used. Ground water accounted for 20% of water used nationally by agriculture, and was the major source of agricultural water in the Northern Territory (66% of water used by agriculture in the Territory).

Almost two thirds of irrigated land in Australia was in the Murray-Darling Basin and the volume of water applied (7,370 gigalitres) is more than two thirds of irrigation water use nationally. Pasture for grazing was the major user of irrigation water in the region, totalling 1,981 gigalitres, followed by cotton with 1,574 gigalitres and rice with 1,252 gigalitres.

Surface water accounted for 84% of water used by agriculture in the Murray-Darling Basin (6,499 gigalitres), while ground water accounted for 14% of the 7,720 gigalitres used in this region.

The provision of estimates for a range of regions is made possible by funding provided by the National Water Commission through Raising National Water Standards, and through natural resource management programs administered by the Departments of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts.

More details are available in Water Use on Australian Farms 2005-06 (cat. no. 4618.0).