Variations in farm size across the Australian Wheatbelt

Of all farms in Australia with grain in their enterprise mix, the national average for the annually cropped area per farm is just over 800 hectares. At 9.7 million hectares, Western Australia has the largest area of cropland of the major Australian Wheatbelt states (i.e. excluding Tasmania and Northern Territory). This is despite only having just over 8,000 cropping farms (i.e. farms for which grain is an important component of the enterprise mix), the smallest number of any Australian state.

Number of cropping farms and total cropland per Australian state, 2011

At an average of 1,201 cropped hectares, Western Australian farms are over twice the size of farms in South Australia (517 ha) and New South Wales (458 ha) and roughly four times the size of farms in Victoria (337 ha) and Queensland (270 ha). The lower land prices in Western Australia and the higher rate of return achieved by farms there is due in large part to the larger size of their farms.

Comparison of cropping farm sizes in different Australian states, 2011

Alongside rainfall and yield reliability farm size is one of the most important determinants of investment returns. For a more detailed analysis on the relationship between farm sizes and investment returns, download our free report, Comparative Analysis of the Australian Wheatbelt. The document also addresses the key question: which region of Australia has delivered superior returns to agricultural investors in the past and is most likely to offer superior risk adjusted returns in the future?

References and data sources:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics, Crops and Pastures Data Series, 2012
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics, Agricultural Land Use and Selected Inputs Data Series, 2012
  • O’Donnell, C 2010, ‘Measuring and decomposing agricultural productivity and profitability change’, Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, vol. 54. pp. 527–560.

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