6 Big Farming Industries in Australia: Top Facts

There is money in agriculture, this is something that is true in every part of the world. Not only does it bring wealth, but it is also essential for our survival.

In this article, we look at the 6 big farming industries in Australia. However, we cannot do that without giving an overview of what agriculture is like in Australia.

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Agriculture in Australia

As I said earlier on, Agriculture is a source of great wealth for nations that invest heavily in it. This is true for Australia as they owe 12% of their GDP in 2021/22 to agriculture.

It is a major employer of labor in the country with more than 325,000 people working in several sections of the agricultural industry like fishing, forestry, etc.

The high demand for Australian agricultural products by other countries in the world is one of the driving forces behind the growth of the Australian agricultural industry. Major exports include wheat, wine, sheep meat, beef, sugar, and dairy products.

Some of the challenges facing the agricultural industry in Australia include:

  • Changing Climate
  • Drought
  • Floods
  • Insects, pests, and diseases.

The 6 Big Farming Industries in Australia

Although there are many other important and large agricultural industries in Australia like cotton, vegetables, nuts, etc., we will be focusing on the following 6 big farming industries in Australia.

Sugarcane

It may be important for you to know that Australia is the highest sugarcane-producing nation in the world. Sugar is also the 6th most valuable agricultural export in Australia.

The common areas in Australia where it is largely grown are New South Wales (around the northern coastal areas) and Queensland (Wide Bay-Burnett, Mackay, Burdekin).

Australia’s warm climate and good soil provide the perfect condition for its growth.

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Facts About Sugarcane Production in Australia

Below are some key points you should note about the production of sugarcane in Australia.

Cultivation

  • Sugarcane needs a lot of water, so proper irrigation must be installed by the farmers.
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  • Sugarcane is planted using setts or billets which is the name given to stem cuttings from already-grown sugarcane plants.

  • It is a perennial grass, and it is grown in large areas of land also known as paddocks.

 Harvesting and Processing

  • Mostly during dry seasons, are sugarcane harvested, from June to November to be precise.

  • There are now advanced mechanized methods for cutting and stripping the sugarcane stalks during harvesting.

  • Most of the sugarcane harvested in Australia is taken to sugar mills for processing.

  • The processing is done through a process of cleaning and crushing the sugarcane, the juice is then set aside for clarification, crystallization, and drying to produce raw sugar.

  • Byproducts from this process include molasses which is used by farmers as animal feed and bagasse which is transformed for paper and energy production.

Wine

Australia is number 5 when it comes to wine production globally. Wine also happens to be the country’s number 5 most valuable export. If you move around Australia, you will notice that wine grapes are grown in large amounts. Some of the areas where this is very noticeable include New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia.

Facts About Wine Production in Australia

Below are some key points you should note about the production of sugarcane in Australia.

Cultivation:

  • One reason behind Australia’s success in wine production is its cool climate areas and warm and arid zones. Other factors include the good soil and altitude that enhance the taste of the wine grapes.

  • The most commonly grapes grown in Australia include Cabernet Suavignon, Shiraz, Chardonnay, etc. 

  • Some of the methods used in cultivating grapes include use of irrigation systems, canopy management, etc.

Harvesting and Processing:

  • The level of ripeness, climate, grape type, and desired wine style are all factors that affect the time of harvest. 

  • The grapes can either be harvested using your hands or using mechanized farming.

  • Once the grapes are plucked and washed, the stems are removed, and they are crushed to extract the juice.

  • This is kept aside and left to ferment using yeast to convert the sugar into CO2 and alcohol. This is then left to age in barrels or stainless steel to preserve its freshness.

Dairy

Australia is number 11 when it comes to milk production globally. Milk also happens to the 4th most valuable agricultural export for Australia. If you move around Australian states, you will observe dairy cows are milked in all of them. The key states for milk production in Australia are Tasmania, Victoria, and New South Wales.

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Facts About Dairy Production in Australia

Below are some key facts about dairy production in Australia:

Cattle Breed and Milk Production:

  • The breed of cows mostly used for milk production in Australia are the Holstein and Jersey breeds.

  • Once the milk is collected from the cows in the dairy farms, it is sent to processing facilities where it undergoes a series of processes including pasteurization, homogenization, etc. One last step is to check the quality of the processed dairy products.

Sheep

Australia comes in at number 2 when it comes to exporting of sheep meat globally. This is also the country’s third most valuable agricultural export.

Although sheep are reared in all parts of Australia, most sheep are produced in the following Australian regions including Queensland, Western Australia, and New South Wales.

Facts About Sheep Production in Australia

Below are some key facts about sheep production in Australia:

Sheep Breads, Wool and Meat Production

  • There are several breeds of sheep that one can find in Australia, with some of the popular ones being Suffolk, Border Leicester, Corriedale, and Merino. These breeds have their own unique qualities when it comes to meat and wool production.

  • Merino sheep wool is popular for its softness, versatility, and fine texture. 

  • Lamb or mutton is another word used to describe the meat gotten from sheep. While mutton comes from mature sheep, lamb is a more tender meat.

  • Some sheep are bred for both their meat and wool production. This is known as dual-purpose sheep.

Beef

Australia happens to be number 1 when it comes to beef cattle exportation globally. Beef is also number 2 most valuable agricultural export in Australia.

Just like sheep, beef cattle are reared in all parts of Australia, but majority is reared in areas like Western Australia, Queensland, and the Northern Territory.

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Facts About Beef Production in Australia

Below are some key facts about beef production in Australia:

Cattle Breeds and Products

  • There are many cattle breeds present in Australia, however, the predominant breeds are Charolais, Brahman, Angus, and Hereford.

  • There are two main feeding methods used in beef production in Australia, and they are grass-fed cattle grazing and grain-fed cattle grazing.
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  • There is a wide variety of cattle beef products in Australia, like sausages and burgers which fall under processed meats, steaks, ground beef, and roasts.

  • Beef cattle are taken to clean and high-quality modern abattoirs that adhere to animal welfare standards for processing.

Wheat

Australia happens to be the world’s 4th largest wheat exporter; this also happens to be their most valuable agricultural product.

Wheat is grown all over Australia, but most of it is grown in Wimmera, south-west of Western Australia, and the Riverina in New South Wales.

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Facts About Wheat Production in Australia

Below are some key facts about wheat production in Australia:

Cultivation:

  • There are hard and soft wheats, both of which are cultivated in Australia. The classification is based on their intended use and protein content.

  • It is cultivated during cool periods between April and June. The time of cultivation also depends on the region. For commercial agriculture, the modern techniques used for cultivation of wheat include precision agriculture and direct seeding.

  • One agricultural practice widely used for wheat farming is crop rotation, as it helps to preserve the soil fertility and reduce pests and diseases.

  • To improve yield of wheat, fertilizers and pesticides are really important.

Harvesting and Processing

  • Wheat is usually harvested between November and December in the northern regions. While for the southern part of Australia, it is harvested between December and January.

  • Modern method of harvesting wheat includes the use of combine harvesters that help to cut and thresh and separate the wheat grains from the chaff and straw.

  • The wheat is cleaned and stored in Silos, to preserve its quality and prevent it from spoilage. Some important features for your silos include proper ventilation and temperature control.

  • Key products made from milling wheat include bran, semolina, flour, etc. Flour milling is practiced by grinding the wheat into particles of various sizes, these sizes are categorized into all-purpose flour, whole wheat, and specialty flours.

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