4618.0 - Water Use on Australian Farms, 2014-15 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/04/2016   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product
27 April 2016
Embargoed: 11.30 am (Canberra time)

Water use on Australian farms drops as dams dry up

2014-15 saw a 15 per cent drop in water used on Australian farms, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Ms Lauren Binns, ABS Director of Rural Environment and Agriculture Statistics, said that drier conditions across the eastern states meant that farmers used less water for irrigation.

"Nationally, farms used an estimated 9.0 million megalitres in 2014-15 to irrigate 2.1 million hectares of crops and pastures, down from 10.7 million megalitres and 2.4 million hectares reported in the previous year," said Ms Binns.

“Reduced rainfalls have particularly affected flows in the Murray - Darling Basin. New South Wales saw the most dramatic falls where use decreased 24 per cent, down to 3.4 megalitres. Queensland and Victoria weren't far behind, recording drops of 17 per cent and 8 per cent respectively."

Decreased water usage was reported across a number of crops in these regions, most noticeably in cotton with the volume of water applied falling by 56 per cent to 1.2 million megalitres in 2014-15. This is supported by the 49 per cent reduction in the area of cotton sown, down to 198,000 hectares in 2014-15 when compared to 390,000 hectares in 2013-14.

“Farmers have also cut back on their use of water for agricultural production across a range of water sources," said Ms Binns.

"In fact, the biggest fall involved on-farm dams and tanks, which fell 37 per cent nationally to 1.2 million megalitres. The volume of water sourced from rivers, creeks and lakes also decreased, down 30 percent since 2013-14."

Irrigation channels and pipes continue to be the major source of water for agricultural purposes in Australia, accounting for 43 per cent of all water sources with 4.2 million megalitres, a 5 per cent decrease on the 2013-14 estimate.

In 2013-14, agriculture accounted for 62 per cent of Australia's water use, according to Water Account, Australia, 2013-14 (cat. no. 4610.0).

Further information is available in Water Use on Australian Farms (cat. no. 4618.0), available for free download from the ABS website, http://www.abs.gov.au.

Media note:

  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
  • Media requests and interviews - contact the ABS Communications Section on 1300 175 070.
  • Subscribe to our media release notification service to notify you of ABS media releases or publications upon their release.