Note that these recommendations are drawn from the Soil Science Australia 2019 Expert Panel Survey. This survey was administered by Soil Science Australia and included 48 responses from 75 invited members wherein members were chosen to reflect a range of career histories and progress.


Adopt a national integrated approach to soil management

National level strategic planning

  • Develop a national policy framework such as a National Soils Strategy.
    • Ensure this document is confined to evidence based management and contains measurable milestones and targets.
    • Ensure this document includes strategic approaches to urban planning and industrial development.
  • Integrate environmental and agricultural priorities in all landscape decision making processes.
  • Develop long term strategies for soil contamination.

Local level strategic planning

  • Encourage realistic expectations of land capability; support landholder actions to change land use to align with those expectations.
  • Encourage consumer cultural change to better align with sustainable soil systems.

Develop links between soil scientists, researchers, policy makers and farmers

Communication

  • Improve dialogue between landholders, industry, government, and research.
    • Improve collaborations between research and other stakeholders.
    • Improve strategic planning between government and other stakeholders.
    • Improve engagement with already developed soil policies.
    • Develop improved tools to deliver soils information to stakeholders to meet their needs.

Extension

  • Improve extension on the value of soils and soil conservation.
    • Provide support for preventative measures against soil degradation.
    • Provide support for mitigating actions and adaptation for climate change, including soil carbon sequestration.
    • Develop and release community fact sheets on soil issues, solutions, and opportunities. Raise public awareness of the value of soils.

Improve soil information systems to support sustainable land managment

Investments

  • Invest in the development of a publicly funded entity (e.g. a National Soils Bureau) with the aim to improve conservation, management and productive capacity of Australia’s soils.
    • Invest in the production, storage, and communication of soils data and information.
    • Facilitate improved data sharing and communication between the States and Territories
    • Increase community soils awareness.
    • Increase investment in soils research, development and extension (RD&E).
  • Increase the efficiency and certainty of current funding initiatives.
  • Improve support resourcing for preventative actions against soil degradation.
  • Improve resourcing and infrastructure for contamination management and remediation.

Agricultural best practice

  • Improve farming systems management (including strategically locating agriculture).
    • Improve stock management.
    • Improve soil organic matter content.
    • Prevent the inappropriate storage and use of irrigation water.
  • Improve preventative degradation measures.
    • Encourage soil testing to promote best nutrient application practices.
    • Encourage chemical handling certification to prevent agricultural contamination.

Landscape management

  • Improve development controls to prevent erosion.
    • Prevent soil degradation through meaningful design and implementation of infrastructure and development.
    • Review land clearing and development guidelines and enable effective enforcement.
    • Encourage whole landscape management for weeds and pest species.

Government capability

  • Improve governmental flexibility to short term challenges.
  • Support the development of soil best practice management plans.
  • Promote soil stewardship with landholders.
  • Support innovative ideas and new adaptive management strategies.

Focus on professional accreditation, education and training in soils

Accreditation

  • Mandate the use of Certified Professional Soil Scientists (CPSS) for all development projects involving soils.
  • Encourage and support the accreditation of non soil scientist professionals working with soils.

Education and training

  • Support soils education programs in schools and tertiary institutions.
  • Invest in soils training (or employing professional soil scientists) in land management agencies.