Soils are Australia’s most valuable natural asset (approx. $1 trillion/year) and provide food, shelter, clothing, and help keep our water sources clean. Healthy soils are intrinsically linked to strong regional communities through their connections to agriculture and the environment.
URBAN AND INDUSTRIAL ENCROACHMENT (THREAT)
Valuable agricultural soils are under increasing attack from expansion of our cities and towns and government, industry and communities must work together to strike the right balance between growth and land care.
Australian soils are seriously threatened by degradation and the unnecessary loss of topsoils through wind and water erosion must be prevented.
Preventing erosion of soil is also important to protect our Great Barrier Reef, ensure the sustainability of our farming land, and reduce health impacts from dust storms.
ACIDIFICATION, SALINISATION and SODIFICATION (THREAT)
Soil health is declining across Australia with increasing salinity, sodicity, acidity and reduced carbon levels; the impacts of poor soil management will be felt for generations.
Contamination can move from soils into the food we eat, the air we breathe and the water we drink.
CLIMATE CHANGE (THREAT)
Soil is the “living skin” of the earth and can act as a defence against climate change; only 10% of Australia is suitable for crops/improved pasture—this is decreasing every year due to climate change.
Increasing droughts are sucking the life out of soils and out of regional communities but sustainable agricultural practises can reduce soil damage and improve farm productivity.
Australia is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and soil can play a key role in this and they store vast amounts of carbon and help to mitigate climate change.
Although our soils are facing significant threats, there are opportunities available for sustainable soils management.
SOLUTIONS TO SAVING OUR SOILS
Adopt a national integrated approach to soil management and develop stronger links between soil scientists, researchers, policy makers and farmers.
Focus on professional accreditation, education and training in soils while improving soil information systems to support sustainable land management.