Mixed year for irrigated commodities: ABS Ag Census 2015-16

Cotton's southern expansion continued in 2015-16. Auscott agronomist Elsie Hudson at Narrabri.
Cotton's southern expansion continued in 2015-16. Auscott agronomist Elsie Hudson at Narrabri.

COTTON is the story of the irrigated crops in 2015-16 the area irrigated and volume of water applied increased noticeably for cotton in 2015-16.

Nationally the area of irrigated cotton rose from 160,500 hectares to 211,300ha (32 per cent). The volume of water applied rose 1.2 million to 1.4 million megalitres (up 20pc).

NSW’s Riverina is the hotspot for cotton’s southern expansion, with many farmers switching over from rice.

Nationally, the number of agricultural irrigation businesses decreased 22,700 (down 18pc).

The number of businesses in NSW, Victoria and South Australia fell 21pc, with the major factor the reduction in area for cropping rice, wheat, sorghum and canola.

Pasture, cereal and other crops for grazing accounted for the largest area of crops irrigated during, at 575,700 hectares (down 10pc). This decrease was primarily driven by a large fall in Victoria (down 19pc) to 346,500ha.

Increases in irrigation were recorded in sugar cane (up 17pc) and fruit and nuts (up 38pc).

Decreases were registered for pastures and cereals for grazing or feed (down 23pc), other cereal crops (down 15pc) and rice (down 63pc).