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Agricultural productivity

​​​​​​​​Productivity measures the quantity of output produced with a given quantity of inputs. Long term productivity growth reflects improvements in farmers’ production efficiency and technological progress. Improving productivity on farms contributes to profitability and competiveness because it allows farmers to produce more output using fewer inputs.

A key focus of ABARES research is measuring Australian agricultural productivity and understanding the factors that influence its growth, such as innovation, seasonal conditions and policy changes.

Recent insights

Productivity in Australia’s broadacre and dairy industries - 2018

9 October 2018

ABARES publishes agricultural productivity estimates for the broadacre and dairy industries. This report provides an update of these productivity estimates, through to 2015-16. This edition also provides a special insight into the effects of farm size on productivity in the beef industry.


Exploring the relationship between farm size and productivity: Evidence from the Australian grains industry, Food Policy Journal

29 March 2018

Farm size has a positive relationship with productivity (i.e. larger farms tend to have higher productivity) and capital hire may make new and advanced technologies more accessible for small farms and bring their productivity closer to that of large farms.

What difference does labour choice make to farm productivity and profitability in the Australian horticulture industry? A comparison between seasonal workers and working holiday makers

February 2018

On average seasonal workers are 20 per cent more productive than backpackers, but their non-wage labour costs are 2.3 times higher. Productivity benefits of hiring seasonal workers likely outweigh the higher non-wage labour costs and deliver profitability gains for farmers, as non-wage costs are generally relatively small.

Evaluating the benefits from transport infrastructure in agriculture: a hedonic analysis of farmland prices, Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

15 January 2018

This hedonic regression analysis of farm‐level data shows access to better transport infrastructure (which reduces transport costs) increased the value of farmland traded between 2009 and 2011. The benefits generated by particular types of infrastructure services vary between industries and with farm size.

Rural Research Development & Extension investment in Australia

21 September 2017

Australian rural research development and extension funding was worth over $3.3 billion in 2014-15. This report explores the Australian rural R&D system.

Last reviewed:
09 Oct 2018