Geography of Dairy Farming

Environmental Impacts

  • Cows produce methane and nitrous oxide in their digestive. These greenhouse gases are 21 (methane) and 296 (nitrous oxide) times stronger than carbon dioxide. Therefore the dairy industry contributes up to 3% of the global greenhouse gas emissions.
  • One cow can produce up to 54kg of wet manure per day. Cow's manure pollutes water and soil and can disturb the natural nutrient balance needed for normal plant growth.
  • The Australian dairy industry is responsible for using mass amounts of water and land. In 2005, the industry used 19% of all water needed for the Agriculture industry. This is more than 12% of all water used in Australia.
  • Deforestation occurs for the need to produce cattle feed
  • The soil and ecosystems are altered due to land use, cropping practices, fertiliser and pesticide application
  • Pollution through unwanted items travelling down pipes and drains

Social Impacts

  • Many dairy farming industries are family owned.
  • There's over 140000 workers in Australia's dairy industry workforce.
  • Dairy farming is Australia's 3rd largest rural industry
  • 33% of milk is used in cheese
  • Per capita consumption of drinking milk is 107L and of cheese is 13.5kg

Economic impacts

  • Dairy is one of Australia's major export industry - $2.76 Billion - 7% of world trade
  • 40% of Australian milk production is exported overseas.
  • China, Japan and Singapore receive most of our dairy products

Current Issues

  • Fighting issues against Supermarket giants; Coles and Woolworths. Some South Australian farmers held protests on their pricing. It costs them 43 cents per litre and they are only receiving 38 cents in return. Andrew Koch, the president of the Barossa Mid-North Dairy Farmers Cooperative stated that dairy farmers are losing $100,000 a year. He says there will be an even greater incline due to these poor conditions.
  • Water in the Murray Darling Basin Plan, carbon and animal health and welfare.
  • The main environmental issues are involving water and air pollution and biodiversity.

Decision Making Process


  • Women often make decisions about their budget, childcare and leisure, compared to how the men usually make daily decisions about crops, machinery, feed and the pastures.


  • Coles made a decision to cut retail prices, supposedly reducing food inflation for customers, although this is not sustaining the dairy industry. The decision Coles made was very poor and shows lack of respect for all those involved in the primary production.


Importance of Dairy Farming

  • The dairy industry directly creates 43000 jobs within Australia and 100000 indirectly.
  • Australian dairy farming contributes to our exports to various countries, mostly in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Dairy farming is one of Australia's leading rural industries