The total irrigated land in New Zealand increased by 102,000 hectares between June 2007 and 2012, new information from the 2012 Agricultural Production Census shows. "Canterbury had the biggest increase in irrigated area, with an extra 60,000 hectares since 2007 – this alone covers an area the size of Lake Taupo," agriculture statistics manager Hamish Hill said. Other regions to gain more irrigated area were Southland and Manawatu-Wanganui. This increase in irrigated land has helped support increases in agricultural production.
Total dairy numbers also significantly increased, from 5.3 million in 2007 to 6.4 million in 2012. "The additional dairy cows will produce around four times the total amount of milk that New Zealanders consume each year," Mr Hill said. Exports of milk powder, butter, and cheese increased by 27 percent in the last five years.
Regions that had significant shifts in dairy numbers between 2007 and 2012 included Canterbury, with an increase of 445,000 dairy cattle, Southland, with an increase of 238,000, and Otago, with an increase of 118,000.
The information released today relating to regions and irrigated land is new, while the national agricultural numbers are a follow-up on those provisionally released in December. This release also includes tables with information on collectively owned farms that are members of the Federation of Māori Authorities.
The 2012 Agricultural Production Census involved farmers, horticulturists, and foresters in New Zealand. It covered land use, animal farming (livestock), horticultural and arable crop growing, forestry, and farming practices in New Zealand (including fertiliser and cultivation). The census was conducted in partnership with the Ministry for Primary Industries.