Land Use in Australian Agriculture


By: Jon Smith, Blue River Valley Jr/Sr High School; Mt. Summit, IN, 6/15/1997


Grade Level: 7th grade Social Studies (Eastern Hemisphere)

Geography Standards addressed:

Materials required:





Agriculture in Australia


Wool is one of Australia’s major exports. Australia produces 35% of the world’s wool supply. More than 97% of the wool is exported, mainly to Japan, the former Soviet countries and Western Europe. In the wetter, eastern regions of Australia, sheep are raised for mutton and lamb, which are meat products. Much of this meat, as well as many live sheep, is exported to the Middle East.


Australia’s cattle industry is also important. Australia is the leading beef exporter in the world. Most beef is exported to the United States (for "fast-food" franchises) and to Japan. Beef cattle and sheep are usually raised on expansive ranches, called "stations". Most dairy farms are located in wetter climates, such as Victoria and Tasmania, and near large urban centers.


Because of its dry climates, only 6% of Australia’s land is suitable for farming. However, Australian farmers are considered to be quite efficient. Only 6% actually raise agricultural crops; yet the country ranks among the world’s leading wheat exporters. Wheat, the major crop, covers about 60% of Australia’s farmland. The wheat belt lies along the plains west of the Great Dividing Range in Victoria and New South Wales.


Australia’s major export crops are sugar, rice and cotton, which are grown mainly in coastal Queensland and New South Wales. Bananas, pineapples, and other fruits are grown along the northeastern coast. Citrus fruits, as well as olives and grapes, are grown in the humid subtropical and Mediterranean climate regions. Crops such as corn, apples, peaches and pears are grown in the maritime climate zones along the southeastern coast and in Tasmania.


Despite its limited amount of arable land and accessible fresh water, Australia is nearly self-sufficient in terms of food crops. Its small population, efficient farming practices and many climate regions have contributed to Australia’s self-sufficiency.

[annotation by Jon Smith]