Irrigated agriculture in the Murray-Darling Basin: an economic survey of irrigators 2012-13 to 2014-15 presents key farm performance measures for irrigated horticulture, dairy, cotton and rice farms in the Basin, including data on water trading and use of irrigation technologies and with an emphasis on results from 2012-13 to 2014-15.
ABARES has conducted surveys of irrigation farms in selected industries and regions in the Murray-Darling Basin since 2006-07. The Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) funded this latest survey.
The first three survey years (2006-07 to 2009-10) were severely affected by drought, with record low inflows to river systems and low irrigation water allocations. Incomes of horticulture, dairy, rice and cotton farms were relatively low throughout this period.
Average farm cash incomes from 2010-11 onwards were mostly higher than in the first three survey years as seasonal conditions improved and water allocations increased.
Water trading was an important tool for irrigators to manage low water allocations during severe drought, particularly between 2006-07 and 2008-09. The survey results show the proportion of farms trading water allocations rose from 2006-07 to 2008-09, then declined until 2010-11 as water supplies became more plentiful after the drought ended.