Rice Most Water Intensive Crop Says Australian Stats Bureau


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Via:: The Age. The Australian Bureau of Statistics released water usage numbers for 2005-06, showing that rice is the most water intensive crop per hectare; however, pasture for grazing is the largest overall consumer of H2O. Although pasture used for grazing is the biggest drain on water resources in Australian agriculture, it requires much less per hectare than hydro-intensive crops like rice, cotton and sugar cane.

In short, rice tops the water usage list at 12.3 megalitres/hectare, followed by cotton at 6.4 megalitres/hectare, then nurseries (5.3 megalitres) and sugarcane (5 megalitres).

Pasture for grazing, which includes dairy farming, beef cattle and lambs, is way down the rankings list in terms of use per hectare, at 3.5 megalitres, but uses the most water in total (2.9 million megalitres) because of the vast number of businesses doing this kind of farming and because it has the most area of land under irrigation (814,000 hectares).

These are interesting numbers and makes one think about the real price of that plate of rice or that cotton t-shirt. The life cycle impacts of what we consume are something we’re starting to hear more and more about and these types of numbers are exactly the kind of thing we should keep in mind when we’re trying to make greener choices. Perhaps this kind of information should be placed on food and clothing labels. Would that make consumers think twice?

Here are the numbers reported in the article:


water used (megalitres) / average use per hectare (megalitres)
pasture for grazing: 2,887,837 / 3.5
cotton: 1,734,951 / 6.4
rice: 1,253,227 / 12.3
sugar cane: 1,056,598 / 5
pasture for hay/silage: 799,397 / 3.7
cereal crops for grain/seed: 695,365 / 2.4
grapevines: 633,183 / 3.5
fruit and nut trees, berries: 629,639 / 4.5
vegetables 416,875/3.8
other broadacre crops: 166,673 / 3
STAT SOURCE: Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Via:: The Age.

More info on:

Ecotips for Conserving Water.

Should Food Labelling Show a Water Footprint.

Water Footprints .

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