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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2006  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/01/2006   
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IRRIGATION

The high variability in river flow and annual rainfall, which are features of the Australian environment, means that successful ongoing production of many crops and pastures is dependent on irrigation. With such variation in rainfall it is not surprising that nearly one third of agriculture establishments (43,800) reported irrigation activity in 2002-03. In total 10,400 gigalitres of irrigation water was applied in 2002-03, an average application rate of 4.4 megalitres per irrigated hectare.

Rice is only grown in areas that can guarantee an adequate supply of irrigation water. Cotton, grapes, vegetables, fruit (including nuts) and sugar cane are the other most intensively irrigated crops, with 96%, 96%, 93%, 74% and 42% respectively of their total growing areas being irrigated in 2002-03.

The total area of land irrigated, about 2.4 million ha in 2002-03 (table 14.3), represents less than 1% of the total land used for agriculture.

Most irrigated land is located within the confines of the Murray-Darling Basin, which covers parts of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.

14.3 AREA OF CROPS AND PASTURES IRRIGATED - 2002-03

NSW(a)
Vic.
Qld
SA
WA
Tas.
NT
Aust.
’000 ha
’000 ha
’000 ha
’000 ha
’000 ha
’000 ha
’000 ha
’000 ha

Pastures (native or sown)
For grazing
208
368
^44
^42
n.p.
36
n.p.
710
For seed production
n.p.
n.p.
*2
^14
n.p.
^2
-
^32
For hay and silage
^59
^57
^25
^16
^-
^4
-
162
Cereal crops
Cut for hay
^37
*13
*13
*2
n.p.
^-
n.p.
^66
For grain or seed(b)
282
^27
^48
^4
n.p.
^4
n.p.
365
Not for grain or seed
^23
*5
^11
*2
n.p.
^2
n.p.
42
Rice
n.p.
n.p.
-
-
-
-
-
44
Sugar cane
-
-
235
-
4
-
-
238
Cotton
^173
-
61
-
-
-
-
234
Other broadacre crops(c)
^29
^8
^11
*3
n.p.
16
n.p.
68
Fruit trees, nut trees, plantations or berry fruits(d)
30
^39
35
18
^10
^4
2
138
Vegetables
For human consumption
15
25
34
13
9
17
-
112
Total(e)
939
593
525
183
48
87
3
2,378

(a) Includes ACT.
(b) Excludes rice.
(c) Excludes sugar cane and cotton.
(d) Excludes grapevines.
(e) Totals include other pastures or crops not elsewhere classified.

Source: Water Use on Australian Farms, 2002-03 (4618.0).


More information on the use of water by the agriculture sector is provided in the
Environment chapter.

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