The analysis of farming activity found that changeable climatic conditions across the country had proven to be both a boon and a burden to production and stocking rates.
Data collected from some 104,000 businesses ranging from beef cattle production to broadacre farming and vineyards has painted a varied picture of Australia’s agricultural sector, the ABS said.
Its director of environment and agriculture statistics, Lauren Binns, said while winter and spring rain in parts of New South Wales and Queensland had resulted in bumper crops in commodities such as barley, a warm, dry spring in southern Australia had brought about a decrease in other crops.
“Barley production increased by 6% in 2015-16, driven by New South Wales farmers increasing their planting area with excellent yields,” Binns said.
“But wheat production fell by 5% as a result of hot conditions in late spring in South Australia and Victoria.”
Similarly, production of canola fell by 21%, with reductions in the area planted in Western Australia and poor conditions in South Australia and Victoria.
To the north, favourable conditions in Queensland and the Northern Territory had contributed to an earlier than anticipated restocking of beef cattle herds.
“Nationally, the national meat cattle herd fell by 1% to 22.3m, with small falls across most states offset by increases in the NT.
“Dairy herds fell by 2% to approximately 2.7m, while the sheep flock fell by 1% to around 67.5m,” Binns added
Nationally, the number of agricultural businesses increased by 1% to 85,681, in line with a similar increase in the total area of agricultural holdings.
Binns said strong support from the agricultural sector had been the foundation of the ABS’s biggest collection of industry data.