State of the state’s agri
South Australia’s key agricultural industries include grain, livestock (including wool), viticulture, horticulture and seafood.
The grain sector produces an average of 7.3 million tonnes - made up largely of wheat and barley but also an increasing amount of pulses and oilseeds. In total, South Australia represents nearly 20 per cent of Australia’s annual grain production across some 4 million hectares and 3,500 farms. In 2017-18, the state’s farm gate production by value was $A1.7 billion even after a drought and frost impacted 6.9 million tonnes. In line with broader agribusinesses in South Australia, the grains sector exports 85 per cent of production to 55 countries with Indonesia, China and Vietnam among the largest customers.
The livestock sector - including dairy and the broiler/egg industry - contributes approximately 30 per cent of farm gate revenue in South Australia. In 2017-18 it drew in a value of $A4.3 billion. The cattle herds sit at around 1.1 million head or 4 per cent of the national herd while the sheep flock sits at approximately 11 million head, producing 57 million kilograms of wool.
In viticulture, South Australia has an estimated 76,000 hectares under vine, dominated by Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, producing 750,000 tonnes of grapes with a farm gate value of $A590 million. In contrast, for the 2017-18 year Australia’s wine industry generated $A2.15 billion, producing 529 million litres with top three export destinations of China, UK and USA. South Australia’s wine industry represents around half of the nation’s vineyards and wine production.
South Australia also leads the way in potato and onion production. Approximately 380,000 tonnes of potatoes are produced from 100 farms. The total fruit, nut and vegetable production in the state sits at 960,000 tonnes. Stone fruit and apples around the Adelaide Hills region is complemented by citrus in the Riverland and vegetable production in the Mallee and Virginia regions. Underpinning the industry is a focus on investment in agtech and water efficiency. A significant increase in permanent plantings, particularly almonds, will throw up challenges for water access over the next five years as they reach full production.
South Australia is considered one of the most sustainable fisheries in Australia with a focus on the two gulfs, Spencer and St Vincent - particularly via Port Lincoln. Wild catch dominates the industry which, in 2017-18, was worth around $A455 million with the single largest product being Southern Bluefin tuna (which produced 9,000 tonnes) and supplemented by prawns, oysters, rock lobster and abalone. Exports centre on Asia, particularly China, Japan and Hong Kong.
Steve Radeski is State Agribusiness Manager for South Australia and Cherelle Murphy is Senior Economist at ANZ