Even though Australia is an arid country, agriculture contributes a major portion of the country’s social, economic, and environmental sustainability. The agricultural crops grown in the country includes wheat, coarse grains, rice, oilseeds, grain legumes, sugarcane, cotton, fruits, grapes, tobacco, and vegetables; and livestock production includes beef, pork, poultry, dairy products, wool, and lamb.
With approximately 85,681 farm businesses, 99% of which are family-owned and operated, each Australian farmer is known to produce enough food to feed about 600 people. The agricultural sector is known to contribute 3% to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
What are the Types of Farming in Australia?
Mixed Crop Farming:
This is the most common type of farming in Australia, accounting for approximately $32 billion in revenue across the nation, which is 50% of all farms. Mixed farming involves growing crops and raising livestock side by side. Associated specifically with the densely populated, urbanised, and industrialised societies, this type of farming is dependent on high incomes and the manufacturing industry. The efficient farming methods, convenient transport systems, proximity to the urban markets, and precipitation predictability assure high yields from mixed farming. This is an advantageous farming process as it protects the farmer from the risks of disease or poor price, spreads labour requirements evenly the entire year, and helps in maintaining the soil fertility provided crops are cultivated in rotation.
Beef Cattle Farming:
Australia is a world leader in the export of beef and live animals, Queensland and New South Wales being the hub. The country’s beef industry has a reputation for being clean and disease-free. More than half of Australian farmers are involved in the cattle industry and sell most of the products in the form of processed beef, which is exported to Japan, the USA, and South Korea. The country also exports live cattle to Indonesia and other countries. Other than beef, Australia exports dairy products to China, Japan, and Southeast Asian countries. Some of the noteworthy benefits of cattle farming include a boost in the farmers’ total income and overall living conditions, animal waste is used as a means of manure for soil enrichment and biofuel, and it is a major source of employment.
A branch of agriculture that includes the breeding, raising, and using of dairy animals, specifically cows, to produce milk and other dairy products. Dairy is the 4th largest rural industry in Australia, generating approximately $4.4 billion in farm gate value (2018-2019). The country exports about 35% of its milk production including a large proportion of exports in the form of value-added products like cheese, butter, milk powders, and ultra-heat-treated milk. Dairy farming is environment friendly as the risk of pollution is minimal and the initial investment cost is low in comparison to other industries.
The harvesting and cultivation of grapes is known as viticulture or winegrowing. The wine industry is a prominent sector in Australia with over 6000 (approx.) wine grape growers, and approximately 2400 Australian wine producers blending grapes into wine. The most popular varieties of wine grapes include Shiraz, Cabaret Sauvignon, and Chardonnay.
This is one of the large-scale industries in Australia. Since the country produces many species of fish, this country is the world’s third-largest Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), having an area larger than the area of the mainland. Most economic activity of the country occurs within the state-managed fisheries because of the location of aquaculture production closer to shore.
About 95% of sugar produced in Australia comes from Queensland and the remaining 5% from New South Wales. Sugar is Australia’s second biggest export item, with more than 80% of sugar being exported as bulk raw sugar.
Starting in September/October and ending in March/April, the cotton growing season in Australia lasts approximately 6 months. Usually grown in the inland regions of northern New South Wales and Queensland, Australia is one of the world’s largest exporters of raw cotton, exporting a large share to China, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Pakistan, and Italy.
Producing and selling about 25% of wool in the global market, Australia is one of the world’s largest producers of wool. Except for the Northern Territory, wool is produced in all the Australian states, New South Wales being the largest producer, followed by Victoria. The country’s wool industry contributes to sheep health and welfare, sustainable land and resource management. The wool produced is renewable, biodegradable, flame-resistant fiber.
Australia is divided into two graining crop regions- northern and southern-based on climate and weather patterns, and soil type. The two crop-growing periods are winter and summer, with most regions being able to produce one crop per year. Although there are some areas that can produce both summer and winter crops every year due to the type of soil and climatic condition. Grain crops of the northern region include wheat, barley, chickpeas, triticale, millet, field peas, soybeans, sunflowers, maize, etc. whereas the south region grows irrigated rice, maize, field peas, barley, lentils, etc.
This branch of agriculture deals with garden crops, mostly fruits, vegetables, and ornamental plants. Comprising fruits, vegetables, nuts, flowers, and other nursery products, the horticulture industry is one of the crucial factors affecting the prosperity of the country. The horticulture industry exceeded $15 billion in production value in 2019-20. The major horticulture areas in Australia are the Goulburn Valley of Victoria, the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area of New South Wales, the Riverland region of South Australia, Northern Tasmania, Southwest Australia, the coastal region of northern New South Wales, and Queensland.
Australia emerged as a prosperous nation in the 1900s with agriculture being a major contributor to the national income.
Did you know that an extensive area of the country is unsuitable for farming and receives very less rainfall?
Most parts of the land are covered by deserts and semi-arid lands, and the soil quality in most parts of the country is of average to poor quality, as per world standards. Despite serious challenges, the agricultural sector of the country is highly productive, thanks to modern technologies and practices.
For more information, research, and marketing services related to the agriculture industry in Australia, get in touch with KG2’s largest independent farmer database.