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Water Use on Australian Farms methodology

Reference period
2019-20 financial year

Survey methodology

Introduction

1 This publication contains final estimates for data items relating to water collected in the 2019–20 Rural and Agricultural Commodities Survey (REACS). Included are statistics on water use and water sources.

2 National and state/territory level estimates are presented in this release. Data at sub-state levels including Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) (2016 edition) Statistical Area Level 4 (SA4), Natural Resource Management (NRM) regions and the Murray Darling Basin region will be released as data cubes (Excel xlsx) and comma separated value (csv) files attached to the publication.

3 The survey is conducted annually in between the five yearly Agricultural Census.

4 Estimates in this publication were compiled from information obtained from the survey for the financial year ended 30 June 2020.

Scope and coverage

5 The scope of the 2019–20 survey was all businesses undertaking agricultural activity recorded on the Australian Bureau of Statistics' Business Register (ABSBR) above a minimum threshold applied to the estimated value of their agricultural operations.

6 For the purposes of the survey a business (statistical unit) is identified as undertaking agricultural activity if any of the primary or secondary productive activities of that business fall within the Agriculture Subdivision (Subdivision 01) as defined by the 2006 edition of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC). For more information, please refer to Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (cat. no. 1292.0).

7 The ABSBR is based on the Australian Business Register (ABR). Most businesses and organisations in Australia are required to obtain an Australian Business Number (ABN) from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) for their business operations. The ABR stores details about businesses and organisations when they register for an ABN.

8 Estimated Value of Agricultural Operations (EVAO) was used to determine whether an agricultural business operation was in-scope for the 2019-20 REACS. EVAO is an ABS construct used to estimate the relative size of agricultural activity undertaken by a business. Three-year average weighted prices are applied to livestock sales and livestock numbers on the farm, and to area and production data for crops. The resultant aggregation of these commodity values is the EVAO. It is not an indicator of the value of receipts of individual farms (turnover) but rather an indicator of the size or extent of agricultural activity. A three year average weight price is used to minimise the effects of both large movements in commodity prices and seasonal conditions which may otherwise unduly influence a business’ EVAO. For businesses below the threshold, or with no previously reported agricultural activity, a derived value of operations based on turnover reported in its Businesses Activity Statement (BAS) is used as a proxy.

9 The scope for the survey was all agricultural businesses with an EVAO of $40,000 or greater.

10 The final estimates from the REACS are based on a response rate of 78.4% from a sample of 25,642 agricultural businesses selected.

Survey content

11 Content changes for the REACS are made each year to best reflect the highest priority information needs for Australian agriculture and to improve the ease of reporting for survey respondents.  To assist with comparing water use estimates published since the 2015-16 reference period a data item listing is available for download from the "Data downloads" section of this publication. To understand how content from the 2019-20 REACS aligns with content for the 2020-21 Agricultural Census, refer to the 2020-21 Agricultural Census Topics and Data Release Plan.

Collection and compilation

12 Agricultural businesses selected in the survey are asked to complete and return a survey form. Paper and electronic versions of the survey form are available.

13 Survey forms are checked for completeness, coherency and accuracy, following their return to the ABS. Where possible, follow-up contact is made to resolve reporting problems. Where contact can not be made, missing items on incomplete forms may be imputed using information provided historically, or from similar agricultural businesses that have responded.

14 Data is then aggregated and responses weighted to account for units in the survey population that were not selected in the sample or did not return a form.

15 Aggregate estimates are compared against a range of other information sources prior to finalising. These include other ABS surveys, administrative data, industry estimates and expectations, as well as consideration of rainfall and other regional climatic events.

16 Adjustments are also made in the estimation process to account for any new agricultural businesses registered on the ABSBR that would be in scope of the survey, but were not identified when the initial survey population frame was created.

Reliability of estimates (sample error)

17 The estimates in this publication are based on information obtained from agricultural businesses that responded to the survey. However, since not all of the businesses that were selected provided data, the estimates are subject to sampling variability; that is, they may differ from the figures that would have been produced if information had been collected from all businesses.

18 One measure of the likely difference is given by the standard error (SE) which indicates the extent to which an estimate might have varied by chance because only a sample was taken or received. There are approximately two chances in three that a 'sample' estimate will differ by less than one SE from the figure that would have been obtained if all establishments had responded or been reported for, and approximately 19 chances in 20 that the difference will be less than two SEs.

19 In this publication, 'sampling' variability of the estimates is measured by the relative standard error (RSE) which is obtained by expressing the SE as a percentage of the estimate to which it refers. Most published estimates have RSEs less than 10%. For some states and territories with limited production of certain commodities, RSEs are greater than 10%. Estimates that have an estimated RSE between 10% and 25% should be used with caution as they are subject to sampling variability too high for some purposes. Estimates with an RSE between 25% and 50% should also be used with caution as they are subject to sampling variability too high for most practical purposes. Estimates with an RSE greater than 50% are considered too unreliable for general use.

20 RSEs for all published estimates are available on request.

21 A table with RSEs for selected estimates follows:

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Aust.

%

NSW

%

Vic.

%

Qld

%

SA

%

WA

%

Tas.

%

NT

%

ACT

%

Total - Area watered (ha)

3.4

8.3

7.0

7.0

5.2

13.1

6.3

4.2

7.4

Total - Volume applied (ML)

1.8

3.8

4.9

3.3

5.8

6.3

5.9

5.6

5.1

Pastures/cereal crops for grazing/fed off - Area watered (ha)

9.9

27.7

12.1

43.6

13.2

14.9

7.3

25.2

-

Pastures/cereal crops for grazing/fed off - Volume applied (ML)

5.7

15.8

10.6

18.0

14.8

15.8

8.0

25.2

-

Cotton - Area watered (ha)

9.0

11.9

-

11.8

-

0.0

-

0.0

-

Cotton - Volume applied (ML)

4.1

3.9

-

11.2

-

0.0

-

0.0

-

Sugar cane - Area watered (ha)

4.8

72.1

-

4.8

-

-

-

-

-

Sugar cane - Volume applied (ML)

4.8

76.6

-

4.8

-

-

-

-

-

Fruit trees, nut trees, plantation or berry fruits - Area watered (ha)

1.6

3.3

1.8

3.2

7.2

7.5

2.2

4.4

20.5

Fruit trees, nut trees, plantation or berry fruits - Volume applied (ML)

1.9

3.8

1.4

4.7

7.9

6.3

1.9

3.9

19.7

 - nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
 

Rounding and confidentiality

22 Where figures for individual states or territories have been suppressed for reasons of confidentiality, they have been included in relevant totals.

23 Where figures have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.

Related publications

24 Final estimates from the survey for agricultural land use, crop and horticultural area and production and livestock numbers are available in Agricultural Commodities, Australia in May 2021.

25 Final estimates of the gross value of agricultural commodities from the 2019–20 Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced (VACP) Collection are available in Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia in May 2021.

26 Final estimates for the gross value of agricultural commodities that are produced with the assistance of irrigation data are no longer released in Gross Value of Irrigated Agricultural Production. This data is now incorporated into Water Account, Australia.

27 ABS publications related to this survey and related environment and agricultural surveys can be accessed under the Statistics page on the ABS website. The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the website which details products to be released in the week ahead.

ABS data available on request

28 As well as the statistics included in this and related publications, the ABS may have other relevant data available on request. Inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.

General acknowledgment

29 ABS publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated. Without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.

Privacy

30 The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS will handle any personal information that you provide to the ABS.

Quality declaration

Institutional environment

For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.

Relevance

Final estimates from the 2019–20 Rural Agricultural and Commodities Survey (REACS) will be presented in three publications:

Agricultural Commodities, Australia contains detailed statistics on land use, crop and horticultural area and production and livestock numbers. The publication presents data on a national, state and territory and sub-state level, including Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) Statistical Area 4 (SA4) and Natural Resource Management (NRM) regions.

Water Use on Australian Farms contains detailed statistics on agricultural water use and sources of water, including details of pastures and crops irrigated and volume of water applied. The publication presents data on a national, state and territory and sub-state level, including ASGS SA4, NRM regions and the Murray-Darling Basin region.

Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia presents value of production statistics. It contains detailed statistics on the gross and local values of crops, livestock slaughters and disposals, and livestock products.  This publication presents data on a national, state and territory and sub-state level, including ASGS SA4 and NRM regions.

Accuracy

Data from the 2019–20 survey are based on a response rate of 78.4% from a sample of 25,642 agricultural businesses selected and have been extensively quality assured.

The resultant estimates have been checked against earlier years' estimates and relevant other sources, to ensure the accuracy of estimates produced.

All estimates in this publication are subject to sampling error. For more information about these errors, refer to the Methodology Notes within this release.

Coherence

The survey was conducted using a frame based on the Australian Business Register (ABR). For the purposes of this collection a business (statistical unit) is identified as undertaking agricultural activity if any of the primary or secondary productive activities of that business fall with the Agriculture Subdivision (Subdivision 01) as defined by the 2006 edition of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC). For more information, please refer to Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (cat. no. 1292.0).

Interpretability

The survey and the Agricultural Census provide a broad range of data about Australian agricultural commodities through a suite of standard products or as data customised for individual requirements. Time series data are available for some estimates that were collected through previous surveys/censuses. Detailed Methodology Notes are provided with each publication to assist users in determining and specifying their data requirements and to understand the concepts underlying the data.

Accessibility

An extensive range of data is available from a variety of agriculture-based collections on the ABS website.

If the information you require is not available as a standard product or service, the ABS Consultancy Services can assist with customised services to suit your requirements. Inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.

Abbreviations

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'000thousand
ABNAustralian Business Number
ABRAustralian Business Register
ABSAustralian Bureau of Statistics
ABSBRAustralian Bureau of Statistics Business Register
ACTAustralian Capital Territory
ANZSICAustralian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification
ASGSAustralian Statistical Geography Standard
ATOAustralian Taxation Office
Aust.Australia
BASBusiness Activity Statement
cat. no.catalogue number
csvcomma separated value file
EVAOEstimated Value of Agricultural Operations
hahectare
Llitres
MDBMurray Darling Basin
MLmegalitre
ML/hamegalitres per hectare
npnot published
necnot elsewhere classified
no.number
NRMNatural Resource Management
NSWNew South Wales
NTNorthern Territory
QldQueensland
REACSRural Environment and Agricultural Commodities Survey
RSErelative standard error
SASouth Australia
SA4Statistical Area Level 4
SEstandard error
Tas.Tasmania
Vic.Victoria
WAWestern Australia
xls or xlsxMicrosoft Excel spreadsheet file