Land Commodities

Introduction to the Australian Wheatbelt

As the largest country in the world without land borders, climatic conditions across Australia vary widely from region to region. The desert and semi-arid central land mass makes Australia the driest continent on earth measured on an average rainfall per unit of area basis. By contrast, the northern part of the country has a tropical climate, varied between rainforests and grasslands.

Most of Australia’s agriculture, in particular its grain production, is confined to a relatively narrow band of land to the east, south east and south west of the country with a temperate or Mediterranean climate, sufficient rainfall and more fertile soils.

This area, known as the Wheatbelt (also sometimes referred to as the Grainbelt), covers only under 6% of Australia’s total land area of 7.7 million square kilometres. However, because Australia is such a large country (about 76% the land area of the United States), at 46 million hectares the Wheatbelt is a huge grain growing region (over three times the total land area of England, for example).

Grain production, in particular wheat, is the most important contributor to broadacre farming profits. From an investment perspective, commercial scale grain producing farms (or mixed livestock and cropping farms with a strong cropping emphasis) also generally produce less volatile returns than livestock only or perennial crop enterprises. As a result, Wheatbelt farms are often the focus of attention for investors in the Australian agricultural sector.

Wheat growing regions of the Australian Wheatbelt

Wheat growing regions of the Australian Wheatbelt

References and data sources:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian National Accounts, National Income and Expenditure Data Series, 2012
  • Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Agricultural Commodities Statistics, 2012