Solid rains bring bumper crops

Image courtesy of [amenic181] \ FreeDigitalPhotos

The value of Australia’s irrigated agricultural production last financial year hit $13.5 billion, pushing production to a ten year high.

Image courtesy of [amenic181] \ FreeDigitalPhotos
Image courtesy of [amenic181] \ FreeDigitalPhotos
The figures released on Thursday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that irrigated production in the Murray Darling Basin increased by 13% to $6.7 billion.

Solid rainfall in the country has helped the value of its irrigated agricultural production soar, according to ABS spokesperson, Helen Baird.

Pasture, cereals, cotton, sugar cane and rice were the big winners, the latter three also recording strong increases in gross value over the previous year.

Cotton increased by $589 million (or 35%) to $2.2 billion, but this was partly offset by decreases in the value of vegetables and fruit. Vegetables fell by $248 million (or 9%) to $2.6 billion, and fruit fell by $94.3 million (or 4%) to $2.4 billion, due to reduced area irrigated for these crops.

The main increases in the area watered were in the eastern states of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, according to Baird.

New South Wales reported the largest increase in volume of irrigation, up 781,000 mega litres or more than a quarter up from the previous year, with growers of cotton and rice in particular taking advantage of increased water allocations.

The total volume of water applied for irrigation was 8.2 million mega litres, 23% higher than the previous year.

Around 59% of all irrigation water was used to grow three commodities: cotton (2.1 million ML), pasture for grazing (1.6 million ML) and rice (1.1 million ML).

The Murray Darling Basin cotton crop was valued at $2 billion, fruit at $1.2 billion and dairy production $857 million.

The commodities recording the highest proportion of value were rice, grapes and cotton with 100%, 96% and 92% of gross value.