Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

Eat yourself into a drought

Everyone remembers the stage of Australian life where a drought was declared, and it was said that showers should be shortened to four minutes in order to conserve. Every shower had the window-stick, bright blue timer. We all know to turn off the tap when we’re brushing our teeth.

But where is our water really being used?

Little is known upon the facts of animal agriculture and how much water it takes to raise beef and dairy cattle of which this article will focus on. Thinking rationally, in the case of animal agriculture, you’re not just paying for the upkeep of the animal, the farm or area the animal is kept, and the processing of the finished product. What also need to be counted is the amount of water used to grow the food and grain to also feed the cattle.

Did you know that for approximately every 500g of Beef that is consumed, 9463.53 litres of water is also consumed? This fact was proven by the USDA (2004) after a an analysis of Americas water use, of which found that agriculture was the use of 80% of the United States water usage.


The Australian Bureau of Statistics has also done an analysis on the state of the use of water within Australian agriculture.  It was seen that through irrigation channels alone 4,161,043 MegaLitres were used for animal agriculture in 2014 alone. It is seen that New South Wales have the highest agricultural water consumption towering above the rest of the states.

aust water use

It can be seen here that the Australian Bureau of Statistics have listed that there has been some changes in the use of water for agriculture, showing decrease in amounts and hectare to water ratio.


You would think that these steady declines would be of a positive note, but seen in a different article, again the Australian Bureau of statistics states;

“…there has been a decrease in the volume of water used for agriculture due to the continuing unavailability of water following the drought. Although this decrease in water use is seen as a positive sign, agricultural water consumption is very much influenced by climatic conditions, particularly rainfall, and this must be taken into account when assessing changes in water use. When in drought, there is little water available for use. When there is plenty of rain, there is no need to irrigate as much. Both situations can lead to reduced consumption of water for agricultural purposes.”

This statement shows that the water usage by agriculture in Australia is highly dependent on the climate of that year.

The real question is, in reference to my last blog, could the effect of animal agriculture on the climate with the high production of Methane and water use be effecting global warming and climate change?

It really is something to sit back and look at, how what we consume can hurts us, but not internally.


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This entry was posted on May 8, 2016 by in Geelong - Friday 3pm.

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