Our industry

Grains and oilseeds are Australia’s largest category of food exports, representing 24 per cent of total agricultural exports. Grain farming spans diverse landscapes, each with its own unique climatic and geographical challenges. Despite this, Australian growers are highly competitive internationally, while also supplying high-quality products for domestic consumption.

 

Industry snapshot

Key statistics

  • $9 billion (annual farm gate value)
  • 34 million tonnes (total annual production)
  • 20 million hectares (farmland sown to grains)

Productivity growth

A strong culture of innovation has driven sustained productivity growth. Beginning in the late 1970s, productivity increased by an average of 1.9 per cent p.a. over three decades – well above rates for Australian industry as a whole.

Growth drivers

  • Better grain varieties and improved agronomy
  • More efficient machinery
  • Better business decisions

Current outlook

Recent productivity growth has slowed – partly due to prolonged drought. A continuing decline in growers’ terms of trade has created renewed impetus for higher levels of productivity growth.

Growing regions

Australia’s grains industry comprises of three main regions, each with different climate and soil characteristics and diverse management requirements. Each region is divided into a series of zones based on specific ecological attributes.

While all regions produce mainly winter cereals, other significant crops are pulses and oilseeds.

Northern region

  • Encompasses Queensland and northern New South Wales
  • Generally high soil fertility
  • High crop diversity (includes wheat, maize, sorghum, barley and oilseeds)
  • Yield largely dependent on conserving soil moisture from summer rainfall
  • Regional demand for livestock feed is a key production driver

Southern region

  • Includes Victoria, Tasmania, south-eastern South Australia, and central and southern New South Wales
  • Generally lower fertility soils
  • Yield largely dependent on autumn and spring rainfall
  • Varied crop production systems, including mixed farming enterprises

Western region

  • Comprises cropping areas of Western Australia
  • Low yield, large scale farming
  • Yield largely dependent on winter and spring rainfall
  • Dominant crops are wheat, barley, canola and lupins
  • Exports 85 per cent of Australia’s grain production

More about our growing regions and agroecological zones.