4618.0 - Water Use on Australian Farms, 2007-08 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 26/05/2009   
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May 26, 2009
Embargoed: 11.30 am (AEST)

Water use on farms drops again, Murray-Darling farmers irrigate less: ABS

Australia's farms dropped their irrigation water usage by almost one fifth during 2007-08, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

This brings irrigation water use to a new low of 6,285 gigalitres and comes on the back of a drop of nearly one third in the preceding year.

Most of this decrease was due to less irrigation on pasture and crops grown for grazing, hay and silage, and cotton and rice crops.

The biggest drop happened again in the Murray-Darling Basin, where water use was down by 30% - compared to a 1% drop for the rest of Australia.

The Murray-Darling Basin still made up half (3,142 gigalitres) of Australia's total irrigation, but this is down considerably from just two years earlier when it comprised more than two thirds of the total.

The largest use of water by farmers in the Murray-Darling Basin was for irrigation of cereals (805 gigalitres); pastures and crops for grazing (657 gigalitres) and grapevines (434 gigalitres)

While nationally the volume of irrigation water dropped significantly there was only a slight fall in the area irrigated, down only 4%, giving an average application rate of 3.4 megalitres per hectare, the lowest in recent years.

The thirstiest crop was still rice, taking 12.9 megalitres per hectare, but on a much reduced crop.

Further details can be found in Water Use on Australian Farms, 2007-08 (cat. no. 4618).