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.
$9 billion (annual farm gate value)
34 million tonnes (total annual production)
20 million hectares (farmland sown to grains)
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.
Better grain varieties and improved agronomy
More efficient machinery
Better business decisions
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.
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.
Encompasses Queensland and 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
Includes Victoria, Tasmania and south-eastern South Australia
Generally lower fertility soils
Yield largely dependent on autumn and spring rainfall
Varied crop production systems, including mixed farming enterprises
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