An ugly picture of an ugly practice. Mid-January 2007, 41 degree heat, and this enormous area of not-very fertile ground is being flood irrigated. Naturally, most of the water simply evaporates.
There are three great disaster crops in Australia: cotton, rice, and this one: irrigated pasture. All three consume massive amounts of water and produce very little of value relative to the input cost. Each one of the three uses roughly the same amount of water as all the cities and towns in Australia put together. None of them are particularly important to the overall economy: abandoning even one of the three would provide a big boost to the desperate river systems of the Murray-Darling Basin, and free up much-needed irrigation water for more productive crops.