In a land of drought and flooding rains, water - often not enough, or too much - dictates the fortunes of our farmers. On World Water Day National Farmers’ Federation President, Fiona Simson explains how farmers have made giant leap forwards in how they use and manage their precious water resources.
Each year, the average Australian farmer feeds 600 people.
Demand for farmers to be more productive is growing with the world's population set to rise to 8.6 billion by 2030, up 1 billion from today.
Our farmers have made 'giant leaps forward' in the management of water, in a relatively short period of time.
Australian grain growers, for example, are up to twice as water efficient as they were 30 years ago. This is despite a 5-30% decrease in growing season rainfall since the 2000s.
Australia's cotton growers produce more crop per drop than any other cotton producing country.
Our cotton industry has achieved a 40% increase in water productivity over the last decade.
Australia’s overall water consumption decreased in 2014-2016 by 7% from 2013-2015. The decrease was the largest in the agriculture industry.
To build on this stellar record, sustainable water use needed to remain firmly on the national agenda.
For agriculture to meet the needs of our growing world, we must be committed to, and innovative in, our approach to water management.
This includes looking at everything from more water efficient farming practices to harnessing new national water supplies.
For example, there continue to be highly sustainable opportunities for intensifying agriculture in northern Australia, in the further development of the Ord River and also across the Great Artesian Basin.
The Murray Darling Basin Plan was the ultimate act of bipartisan commitment to national water management.Fiona Simson, NFF President
The landmark agreement found the complex balance of advancing environmental interest in par with that of irrigators.
It is vital that bipartisan support for the Plan is maintained.
Current issues before the Federal Parliament require careful and future looking contemplation to ensure the agreed Plan can continue to deliver for the environment, farmers and Basin communities.