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Key Messages

  • Queensland has a vast land area across a wide variety of climate zones and soil types, and rural settlements are essential in supporting our regional and rural communities and industries.

    By better understanding the Queensland’s landscape, climate zones and soil types, we can develop appropriate practices to help increase crop yields and productivity of the land while still considering the natural environment around it and help conserve these areas for future generations.

    Effective planning and management is essential for ensuring the long-term sustainability and prosperity of Queensland’s environment and its communities.

  • Climate is a major consideration for the management of Queensland’s agricultural enterprises. The incidence of year-to-year variability in rainfall, multi-year droughts, temperature extremes and flooding creates uncertainty and exacerbates risk for land managers’ to provide consistency in quality and quantity of produce (i.e. crops and livestock products). Therefore, enterprise viability and sustainable use of natural resources depend on “best management practice” by land managers for their operations. Extension products that provide guidance to better cope with these climate extremes and variability have been developed and are keenly sought after by producers and their advisors.

  • Soil is a critical non-renewable resource which supports ecosystem function that sustains our society. Monitoring soil to detect changes and trends in condition over time informs the effectiveness of land management policies and practices for sustainable development.


Change in ground cover levels

Ground cover in grazing lands across Queensland declined in 2019 compared to the long-term mean, broadly reflecting decreased average annual rainfall across the state in recent years. More than two-thirds of Queensland was wholly or partly drought declared by the end of 2019.

Extent of cropping

Queensland grew an average of 3.86 million hectares of crops per year for the last 10 years. Crops can be either summer or winter-growing. Every year, the area of winter crops exceeded the area of summer crops.

Broadacre agriculture production

Broadacre agriculture production in Queensland grew 8% from 2013–14 to 2017–18, reaching 35.5 million tonnes in 2017–18, mostly due to increased sugar cane production. Total broadacre value of production rose 16% over the same period, to around $3.29 billion buoyed by grains and pulses, cotton and sugar cane.

Horticulture production

Total Queensland horticulture production increased 10% from 1.07 million tonnes in 2013–14 to 1.18 million tonnes in 2017–18, with a peak in production at 1.21 million tonnes in 2015–16, its trendline increasing at a slight rate over this time period. Total Queensland horticulture crops gross value of production increased by 39% over the same period.

Annual rainfall and pasture growth relative to historical records

Queensland grazing lands continued into the ninth successive dry year, with 67% of the state drought-declared. Widespread rainfall and pasture growth respite began in mid-January 2020. However, destructive flooding, catastrophic fires, a short wet season and insect plagues disrupted grazing enterprises’ attempts at herd rebuilding.

Livestock and meat production

Total Queensland beef and sheep and lamb numbers decreased by nearly 7% from 2013–14 to 2017–18, whereas pig numbers increased 11% over the same period. The total gross value of production (GVP) for beef increased by nearly 40%, the sheep and lamb GVP decreased by 82% whereas for pigs the GVP decreased by 5%. Egg production increased by 4% during this period resulting in a total GVP increase of 18%. Despite wool production declining by 23%, the GVP increased by 22%. During this same period, milk production declined by 9% however the GVP remained steady.

Soil and land resources availability and capability

The majority of the Queensland’s land resource (71% or 1,234,099km2) is mainly suitable for grazing. Only 9% (or 157,696km2) is Class A land, suitable for intensive high-productivity agriculture. These data relate to a general assessment and it should be noted that agricultural production in any given year is affected by seasonal rainfall and water availability.


Change in rural land use extent

Since 1999, the proportion of Queensland that is rural land not settled has increased by 6.9 million hectares (ha) (or 34.26%). Cape York Natural Resource Management (NRM) region has experienced the greatest increase (2,039,292ha or 38.1%) whilst Southern Gulf NRM region has experienced the least increase (53,072ha or 3.0%).

Multi-year rainfall and pasture growth periods in Queensland

Queensland has endured dry conditions for 8 years (April 2012 – March 2020). Rainfall for this dry period was 37% below the previous (wet) period that lasted for 5 years (April 2007 – March 2012).

Change in available soil and land resources

In the 20 years from 1999 to 2019, <0.1% (63,411km2) of the State changed land use, with 3.6% (54,775km2) of land capable of agricultural production became unavailable for agriculture due to other uses over this period.


Queensland AgTrends

Queensland AgTrends includes the latest economic forecasts and trends in Queensland agricultural, fisheries and forestry production. The report provides gross value of production forecasts for each of Queensland's major primary industry commodities, as well as forecasts for first-round processing activities. The main edition of Queensland AgTrends contains initial forecasts for the most recent financial year and is published annually.

These forecasts are then reviewed during the year. Changes to the initial forecasts are reported 6 months later in the subsequent edition of AgTrends update.

Queensland Soil Monitoring Program

The Queensland Soil Monitoring (QSM) program creates a baseline soil condition dataset. Monitoring soil to detect changes and trends in condition over time informs the effectiveness of land management policies and practices. The QSM program has sites across several major land uses, bioregions and climates: more locations are planned in the future.

The Long Paddock

The Long Paddock website is a Queensland Government initiative that has served Australian rangelands scientists and land managers since December 1995. Long Paddock was developed to provide relevant and tailored information to Queensland and Australian rural landholders, managers, pastoralists (graziers), researchers, advisors, students, consultants and extension providers, enabling them to incorporate climate-related risk into their decision making.