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.

[expand all]

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 November 2019 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 670,300 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 18 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 106,700 people, followed by retail trade with 69,300 people, and education and training with 61,200 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were construction; professional, scientific and technical services; and manufacturing. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 5,900 people, representing 1 per cent of the region's workforce.

Employment profile, Greater Adelaide region, November 2019
Shows the number of people employed in the Greater Adelaide region by industry in thousands. The figure is discussed in the previous two paragraphs.
Note: Annual average of the preceding 4 quarters.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, cat. no. 6291.0, Labour Force, Australia 2019

Agricultural sector

Value of agricultural production

In 2017–18, the gross value of agricultural production in the Greater Adelaide region was $466 million, which was 7 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in South Australia ($6.6 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 ($76 million), followed by apples ($56 million) and wine grapes ($34 million). These commodities together contributed 36 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2017–18 the Greater Adelaide region accounted for 100 per cent ($25 million) of the total value of the state's brussel sprouts production.

Value of agricultural production, Greater Adelaide region, 2017–18
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 2019

Number and type of farms

ABS data indicate that in 2017–18 there were 906 farms in the Greater Adelaide region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 10 per cent of all farm businesses in South Australia.

Number of farms, by industry classification, Greater Adelaide region, 2017–18

Industry classification

Greater Adelaide region

South Australia

Number of farms

% of Region

Number of farms

Contribution of region to state total %

Grape Growing        222 24.5      1,318 16.9
Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)        164 18.1          248 66.1
Vegetable Growing (Under Cover)        147 16.2          164 89.5
Apple and Pear Growing           59 6.5            71 83.4
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)           52 5.8          675 7.7
Other Grain Growing           45 5.0      1,813 2.5
Horse Farming           25 2.8            45 56.4
Other Fruit and Tree Nut Growing           17 1.9            57 29.7
Sheep Farming (Specialised)           17 1.9      1,273 1.3
Nursery Production (Under Cover)           16 1.7            18 86.6
Floriculture Production (Under Cover)           16 1.7            17 94.1
Floriculture Production (Outdoors)           15 1.7            20 76.4
Stone Fruit Growing           14 1.5            58 23.8
Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming           13 1.4      1,910 0.7
Other           85 9.3      1,324 6.4
Total agriculture        906 100      9,010 10.1

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.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2019

Farms in the table above are classified according to the activities that generate most of their value of production. Grape growing farms (222 farms) were the most common, accounting for 25 per cent of all farms in the Greater Adelaide region, and 17 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 6 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2017–18. In comparison, 11 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 55 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Greater Adelaide region in 2017–18.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, Greater Adelaide region, 2017–18
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 2017–18 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 2019

Farm financial performance

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

Fisheries sector

King George whiting and Snapper are two primary target species for recreational, commercial and charter fishers in the Greater Adelaide region. Blue crabs and western king prawns are caught mostly in the Gulf St Vincent. Other important wild–catch species include, abalone, southern rock lobster, giant crab and are found along the coast of the region.

In 2015–16 the gross value of South Australia's fisheries production was around $517 million, an increase of 10 per cent ($48 million) from 2014–15. South Australia contributed 17 per cent of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2015–16. In value terms, the wild–catch sector accounted for 51 per cent ($265 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 49 per cent ($252 million).

South Australia's wild–catch fisheries sector is dominated by four main products—Southern rock lobster, prawns, Australian sardines and abalone —which account for 52 per cent, 17 per cent, 10 per cent and 8 per cent respectively of the total value of wild-caught production in 2014–15. Over the last decade the real value of South Australia's wild-caught fisheries products has increased by 7 per cent to $265 million (2015–16). The product for which the real value of production increased most over the past decade are wild-caught rock lobster, increasing by $34 million. A large proportion of abalone is exported, mostly to Hong Kong, China and Japan. Exchange rate movements have a significant effect on the value of abalone exports and, in turn, production. Prawns are mostly sold in the domestic market, where competition from imports has placed significant downward pressure on prices in recent years.

Most Australian sardine production is used as a high quality feed in tuna ranching operations located off Port Lincoln in South Australia. A small portion also goes toward human consumption, the recreational fishing bait market and premium brands of pet food.

In 2015–16 the value of South Australia's aquaculture production is estimated to have increased by 11 per cent from $227 million in 2014–15 to $252 million in 2015–16. Southern bluefin tuna is the single most valuable species in the region and South Australia's aquaculture industry, and is ranched by the Commonwealth Southern Bluefin Tuna fishery for fattening in sea cages at Port Lincoln. Southern bluefin tuna accounted for 50 per cent (127 million) of the value of South Australian aquaculture production, followed by oysters (12 per cent; $31 million) and abalone (6 per cent; $15 million).

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 (supplies gummy shark or flake to Melbourne) of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery 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 2014–15, South Australia's fisheries product exports were valued at $250 million. The main export products include tuna, Southern rock lobster and abalone. Japan and Vietnam are the major destinations for South Australian fisheries exports, accounting for 49 per cent and 23per cent of the total value of exports in 2015–16, respectively. Other major export destinations include Hong Kong (13 per cent), China (3 per cent) and Singapore (2 per cent).

Recreational fishing is popular in South Australia with an estimated 277,027 South Australians (5 years and over) participating in the activity in the 12 months prior to November 2013. In its survey of recreational fishers in South Australia found that most fishing effort is directed to Spencer Gulf (37 per cent), the Gulf St. Vincent and Kangaroo Island waters (28 per cent), followed by West Coast (16 per cent) and the South East waters (6 per cent). Most (87 per cent) fishing effort occurred in marine waters, including estuaries, and inshore and offshore waters. The remaining 13 per cent 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 Australian salmon, blue swimmer crab, King George whiting, mulloway, snapper, southern calamari, southern garfish, southern rock lobster and pipi.

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 2019a Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly, November 2019, cat. no. 6291.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 15 January 2020.

ABS 2019b Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia, 2017-18, cat. no. 7503.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 15 May 2019.

Last reviewed: 22 January 2020
Thanks for your feedback.
Thanks! Your feedback has been submitted.

We aren't able to respond to your individual comments or questions.
To contact us directly phone us or submit an online inquiry

Please verify that you are not a robot.