About my region – Greater Adelaide South Australia

​​​​​​About my region is a series of individual profiles of the agricultural, forestry and fisheries industries in your region. This regional profile presents an overview of the agriculture and fisheries sectors in the Greater Adelaide region and the recent financial performance of the South Australian broadacre, dairy, and vegetable industries.

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Regional overview

The Greater Adelaide region comprises twenty three local government areas. It includes the city of Adelaide and the regional centres of Gawler and Mount Barker. The region covers a total area of around 3,240 square kilometres or less than 0.5 per cent of South Australia’s total area and is home to approximately 1.3 million people (ABS 2018).

Agricultural land in the Greater Adelaide region occupies about 1,730 square kilometres, or 53 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 510 square kilometres, or 16 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pasture which occupies 1,110 square kilometres or 34 per cent of the Greater Adelaide region (ABARES 2016).

Broad land use in the Greater Adelaide region
Shows a map of broad land use in the Greater Adelaide region. It includes a legend which shows the broad land use categories— nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use; grazing native vegetation; production forestry; grazing modified pastures; plantation forestry; cropping; horticulture; intensive uses and water. This map is discussed in the above paragraph.
Source: Catchment scale land use of Australia - Update December 2018


Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the August 2020 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 660,200 people were employed in the Greater Adelaide region. The Greater Adelaide region accounts for about 79 per cent of total employment in South Australia and 20 per cent of all people employed in the South Australian agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.

Health care and social assistance was the largest employment sector with 103,500 people, followed by retail trade with 68,700 people, and education and training with 58,700 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were construction; manufacturing; and professional, scientific and technical services. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 6,200 people, representing less than 1 per cent of the region's workforce.

Employment profile, Greater Adelaide region, August 2020
Note: Annual average of the preceding 4 quarters.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, cat. no. 6291.0, Labour Force, Australia 2020

Agricultural sector

Value of agricultural production

In 2018–19, the gross value of agricultural production in the Greater Adelaide region was $409 million, which was 6 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in South Australia ($6.8 billion).

The Greater Adelaide region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the Greater Adelaide region based on the gross value of agricultural production were tomatoes ($69 million), followed by apples ($52 million) and wine grapes ($32 million). These commodities together contributed 38 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2018–19 the Greater Adelaide region accounted for 100 per cent ($20 million) of the total value of the state's brussels sprouts production.

Value of agricultural production, Greater Adelaide region, 2018–19
Shows the gross value of agricultural production in the region in millions of dollars. The figure is discussed in the previous three paragraphs.
Note: The graph shows only data published by the ABS. Some values were not published by the ABS to ensure confidentiality. The "Other commodities" category includes the total value of commodities not published as well as those with small values.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, cat. no. 7503.0, Value of agricultural commodities produced, Australia 2020

Number and type of farms

ABS data indicate that in 2018–19 there were 842 farms in the Greater Adelaide region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 9 per cent of all farm businesses in South Australia.

Number of farms, by industry classification, Greater Adelaide region, 2018–19

Industry classification

Greater Adelaide region

South Australia

Number of farms

% of Region

Number of farms

Contribution of region to state total %

Grape Growing  206 24.5  1,307 15.7
Vegetable Growing (Under Cover)  178 21.2  186 95.6
Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)  117 13.9  202 57.8
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)  71 8.5  688 10.4
Apple and Pear Growing  49 5.8  58 84.6
Horse Farming  33 4.0  69 48.3
Nursery Production (Under Cover)  33 3.9  34 96.7
Other Fruit and Tree Nut Growing  23 2.7  86 26.7
Stone Fruit Growing  21 2.5  73 28.8
Other Crop Growing nec  16 1.9  46 34.6
Other  95 11.2  6,168 1.5
Total agriculture  842 100  8,917 9.4

Note: Estimated value of agricultural operations $40,000 or more. Industries that constitute less than 1 per cent of the region's industry are not shown. nec Not elsewhere classified.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Customised report, 2020

Farms in the table above are classified according to the activities that generate most of their value of production. Grape growing farms (206 farms) were the most common, accounting for 24 per cent of all farms in the Greater Adelaide region, and 16 per cent of all grape growing farms in South Australia.

Estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) is a measure of the value of production from farms and a measure of their business size. Around 37 per cent of farms in the Greater Adelaide region had an EVAO between $50,000 and $150,000. These farms accounted for only 7 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2018–19. In comparison, 10 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 51 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Greater Adelaide region in 2018–19.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, Greater Adelaide region, 2018–19
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Greater Adelaide region. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraph.
Note: Only farms with an EVAO of $50,000 or more in 2018–19 are included in these data. The scope of ABS Rural Environment and Agricultural Collections changed in 2015–16 to include only agricultural businesses with an EVAO of $40,000 or greater.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Customised report, 2020

Farm financial performance

Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, dairy and vegetable farms in South Australia.

Fisheries sector

The Greater Adelaide region in South Australia sits on the western shoreline of Gulf St Vincent and is important to both Commonwealth and state commercial wild-catch and aquaculture. In 2018–19, Port Adelaide landed 2,222 tonnes of Commonwealth wild-catch from the Gillnet Hook and Trap sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery, including 1,749 tonnes of Gummy Shark, 292 tonnes of School Shark, 75 tonnes of Whiskery Shark and 63 tonnes of Bronze Whaler. The region is also part of the central zone of the Southern Australian Commercial Abalone Fishery which is responsible for 30% of Blacklip and 35% of Greenlip Abalone state-wide catch. Since 2010 the region has also been responsible for a large portion (approximately 50%) of the state-wide Breams catch (PIRSA 2015). Other important species caught in the region include Southern Calamari, Blue Swimmer Crab, Western King Prawn, King George Whiting, Mulloway, Southern Garfish and Yelloweye Mullet.

Aquaculture in the Greater Adelaide region is focused primarily on freshwater Finfish, with 166 tonnes produced with a value of $1.9 million in 2017–18. Marron and Yabbies are also produced in smaller quantities (BDO EconSearch 2019).

Recreational fishing is a popular activity in the Greater Adelaide region, with 16% of Adelaide residents and 24% of Outer Adelaide residents fishing at least once in the 12 months prior to November 2013. Fifty-seven percent of total fishing effort in the state is expended in this region. In Gulf St Vincent, offshore from Adelaide, species commonly harvested include King George Whiting, Snapper, Southern Garfish, Southern Calamari and Blue Swimmer Crab (Giri & Hall 2015).

South Australia state data

In 2017–18 the gross value production (GVP) of South Australia's fisheries and aquaculture decreased by 3% ($13.9 million) to $469.7 million from 2016–17. This decline resulted mainly from an 11% fall in the value of aquaculture production. South Australia contributed 15% of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2017–18. In value terms, the wild-catch sector accounted for 56% ($264 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 44% ($205.7 million).

South Australia's wild-catch fisheries sector is dominated by four main products – Southern Rock Lobster, Prawns, Abalone and Australian Sardines – which accounted for 46% ($122.6 million), 19% ($51.2 million), 10% ($27.2 million) and 10% ($26.4 million) respectively of the total value of wild-caught production in 2017–18. In the 10 years up to 2017–18 the real value of South Australia's wild-caught fisheries products has increased by 2.5% to $264 million (2015–16), with a 4% increase in GVP in 2017–18. The increase in 2017–18 was primarily driven by increases in catch and price for a number of species. Catch of Prawns increased by 6% to 2,577 tonnes and value increased by 11% to $51.2 million. Of the wild-caught Finfish species, Australian Sardines made the largest contribution to GVP, increasing by 11% in value in 2017–18 to $26.4 million. Australian Sardines are predominantly used as feed for Tunas produced by SA Southern Bluefin Tuna ranching sector (Econsearch 2018). Australian Sardines have a low unit value but are caught in large volumes. In 2017–18 Australian Sardines accounted for 82% of the 52,833 tonnes of wild-caught production.

In 2017–18 the value of South Australia's aquaculture production is estimated to have declined by 11% from $230.5 million in 2016–17 to $205.7 million in 2017–18. A leading factor in the decline of Aquaculture GVP in South Australia was the volume of Oysters (predominantly Pacific Oyster) produced in 2017–18. The volume of Oysters produced declined by 58% in 2017–18 to 2,177 tonnes. As a result, in 2017–18 the GVP of Oysters halved from 2016–17 levels to $20.2 million. The decline in production is due to the outbreak of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) diseases in Tasmania in 2016. While South Australia is classified as POMS free, the South Australian Oyster industry is heavily reliant on spat grown in Tasmania, meaning that production has been limited since the POMS outbreak (Nogrady 2019). Southern Bluefin Tuna accounts for 61% of aquaculture GVP, with a production value of $126.0 million. Southern Bluefin Tuna is ranched off the coast of Port Lincoln and is mostly exported to the Japanese market as a high-value product (DA 2015).

Commonwealth fisheries active in waters off South Australia include the Commonwealth Trawl Sector (main source of domestic fresh fish for Sydney and Melbourne markets) the Shark Gillnet and Shark Hook Sectors of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (supplies Gummy Shark or flake to Melbourne) and the Great Australian Bight sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery harvesting mainly Redfish and Flathead. The Small Pelagic Fishery (mostly fishmeal for aquaculture and agriculture) also operates in the waters off South Australia.

In 2018–19, South Australia's fisheries product exports were valued at $261 million. The main export products include Tunas, Southern Rock Lobster and Abalone. Japan, China and Hong Kong are the major destinations for South Australian fisheries exports, accounting for 46%, 30% and 13% of the total value of exports in 2018–19, respectively.

Recreational fishing is popular in South Australia with an estimated 277,027 South Australians (five years and over) participating in the activity in the 12 months prior to November 2013. Most fishing effort is directed to Spencer Gulf (37%) and the Gulf St. Vincent and Kangaroo Island waters (28%), followed by West Coast (16%) and the South East waters (6%), with 87% of effort occurring in marine waters, including estuaries, and inshore and offshore waters. The remaining 13% of effort was in freshwater activity, with the majority of this effort occurring in the River Murray. The key species caught by recreational fishers include King George Whiting, Australian Herring, Southern Garfish, Breams, Yellowfin Whiting, Blue Swimmer Crab, Pipi and Southern Calamari (Giri and Hall 2015).

Note: Where applicable the Australian Fish Names Standard AS SSA 5300-2019 is now used in this section. In this section standard fish names for groups of species or species families are not capitalised and employ the use of initial capital letters.

Forestry sector

In 2014–15, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the Greater Adelaide region was 2,900 hectares, comprised of 200 hectares of hardwood plantations and 2,700 hectares of softwood plantations. The main hardwood plantation species in South Australia are Tasmanian blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) and other eucalyptus species (Eucalyptus nitens). The main softwood plantation species in South Australia is Radiata Pine (Pinus radiata).

In 2016 there were 40,000 hectares of native forests in the Greater Adelaide region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Medium Woodland (22,400 hectares), Eucalypt Low Woodland (11,200 hectares) and Mangrove (1,700 hectares). The majority of the native forests were privately managed (23,500 hectares) and 10,800 hectares were in conservation reserves. There are 3,600 hectares of native forest recorded on multiple use public land but available for timber production through prescription.

South Australia state data

In 2017–18, the total plantation area in South Australia was 172,200 hectares, comprised of 44,800 hectares of hardwood plantations and 127,200 hectares of softwood plantations.

In 2016, South Australia had 13 sawmills, 2 post and pole processors, 2 wood-based panel processors and one paper and paperboard processor.

In 2016, there were 4.8 million hectares of native forests in South Australia, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Mallee Woodland (3.7 million hectares), Casuarina (252,400 hectares) and Eucalypt Mallee Open (208,100 hectares).

In 2017–18 the volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested was 1.1 million cubic metres valued at $88.0 million. The volume of softwood logs harvested was 3.1 million cubic metres valued at $245.7 million. There is no native hardwood harvesting in South Australia.

In 2017–18, the estimated sales and service income generated from the sale of wood products in South Australia was $1.2 billion. Sales and service income for paper and paper products is not available for 2017–18.

In 2016 the South Australia forestry sector employed 5,520 workers (0.74 per cent) of the total employed workforce in South Australia compared with 6,500 (0.88 per cent) in 2011. The number of people employed includes the following categories: forestry and logging, forestry support services, wood product manufacturing and pulp, paper and converted paper product manufacturing.


ABARES 2016, Land Use of Australia 2010–11, ABARES, Canberra, May.

ABARES 2018, Catchment scale land use of Australia – December 2018, Canberra, December.

ABS 2018, Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2017, cat. no. 3235.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 10 January 2019.

ABS 2020a, Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly, August 2020, cat. no. 6291.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 12 December 2020.

ABS 2020b, Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia, 2018-19, cat. no. 7503.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 29 May 2020.

BDO EconSearch 2019, The Economic Contribution of Aquaculture in the South Australian State and Regional Economies, 2017/18 – A Report to Primary Industries and Regions South Australia Fisheries and Aquaculture (PDF1.4 MB), Adelaide, SA.

DA 2015, Australia’s seafood trade (PDF 1.5 MB), Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Canberra.

Econsearch 2018, The economic contribution of aquaculture in the South Australian state and regional economies, 2016/1 (PDF 1.4 MB), report to Primary Industries and Regions South Australia Fisheries and Aquaculture.

Giri K and Hall K 2015, South Australian Recreational Fishing Survey (PDF 2.1 MB). Fisheries Victoria Internal Report Series No. 62.

Nogrady, B 2019, POMS: where is the Pacific Oyster industry now?, Fisheries Research & Development Corporation News, vol. 27, no. 3, September 2019.

PIRSA 2015, Status of South Australian Fisheries Report (PDF 3.3 MB), South Australian Fisheries Management Series, Paper number 69. Primary Industries and Regions SA, Adelaide.

Last reviewed: 20 April 2021
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