Geography of Dairy Farming

By Sabrina Singh

Environmental Impacts of Primary Production

  • The production of milk has a large impact on the environment. Cows produce methane and nitrous oxide in their digestive system. These greenhouse gasses are 21 and 296 times stronger than carbon dioxide. Therefore the dairy industry contributes to 31% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
  • One cow can produce up to 54 kg 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 the water used in Australia.
  • Deforestation occurs for the need to produce cattle feed

Social Impacts of Primary Production

  • Milk is utilised in many different products: Cheese (33%), SMP/Butter (28%), Drinking Milk (27%), WMP (9%), Other (3%)
  • Dairy farming produces 333 000 tonnes of Milk Powder, 338 000 tonnes of Cheese and 118 200 tonnes of Butter
  • The consumption of drinking milk per capita is 107 litres and the consumption of cheese is 13.5 kg.
  • The Dairy Industry Workforce has 43 000 direct employees and 100 000 indirect employees

Economic Impacts of Primary Production

  • Dairy is Australia's 3rd largest rural industry.
  • Dairy farming is a $13 billion industry that also involves manufacturing and exports.
  • Australian dairy is a major export. It is a $2.76 billion industry and 7% of world dairy trade.
  • 40% of Australian milk production is exported.
  • The 3 major markets for Australian Dairy Products are Australia (2,999,000 tonnes), China (129,000 tonnes) and Japan (125,000 tonnes).
  • The dairy industry workforce directly employs 43,000 and indirectly employs 100,000.