South Pacific
Soil Project

Improving soils with quality soil science

 

Pacific Island Nations have both unique soils and challenges for agriculture and soil conservation. Faced with unstable international food prices, there is a drive for Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) to become self-sufficient in food production.

ACIAR has commissioned Soil Science Australia to undertake an assessment of the capacity and issues related to delivery of soil analytical services across the agricultural chemistry (ag-chem) laboratories in the Pacific including in Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Solomon Islands.

Further information on the project and ACIAR can be found here.

Pacific Islands Soils Project at a glance:

  • Regional Network Approach
  • Improvement in sustainability and productivity
  • Seek to enable and mentor the PICT laboratories
  • Collaboration and capacity building

A collaboration with Soil Science Australia and ACIAR the Pacific Islands Project is an opportunity for us to work collaboratively with Pacific Island Nations; looking at opportunities to address the unique soil challenges they face, increase collaboration and build capacity.

Soil Science Australia is uniting soil professionals from the South Pacific Islands, fostering collaboration and identifying strengths and weaknesses across various nations and institutions. This joint effort sets the stage for regional cooperation toward implementing sustainable soil management practices.

Pacific soil allies

Like the countries themselves, those who work within the soil profession across the Pacific are geographically and professionally isolated. Soil Science Australia has created the Pacific Soil Allies to reduce this isolation and build networks and connections.

Core to Soil Science Australia is our membership – a community and network of soil professionals, practitioners and scientists. This professional community gives us the ability to collaborate, problem solve and bring soil forward into a national focus.

As in Australia, soil is critical to food security, water quality, infrastructure and everyday life in the South Pacific region.

The Pacific Soil Allies program will facilitate the exchange of knowledge, enhanced networking, and the benefit of scientific soils advice between Australian researchers and with those on the ground in the Pacific. In exchange this partnership offers Australian researchers a direct connection to new research locations.

"I strongly think having a good network is vital for our countries to better fill in the gaps and needs knowing each others strengths and weaknesses."

Pacific Islands Solis Project

Challenges

Diverse challenges surround soil health and fertility across the South Pacific region, but common threads tie these concerns together. Isolation poses a significant hurdle in the region, limiting access to vital resources crucial for measuring and renourishing soil. A shortage of specialised skills further complicates efforts to address and mitigate soil-related issues effectively. Addressing soil health and fertility is important not only for food security in the region, but also for preserving soil carbon in the context of climate change.

Some countries in the South Pacific face declining soil fertility due to intensified agricultural production. This has led to a decrease in soil health and productivity in certain areas. Additionally, low-lying islands encounter a unique challenge in managing rising soil salinity caused by climate change-induced sea-level rise and shifting rainfall patterns. These islands must adapt to combat encroaching saline waters that threaten the viability of agriculture. Exploring these challenges is crucial to developing adaptive strategies for sustaining soil health in these vulnerable regions.

Ag-Chem Labs in the Pacific

Ag-chem laboratories provide valuable data on soils, water and plants that will support development and improvement in productivity and sustainability of agricultural systems.

The ability of these laboratories to provide reliable and accurate data and information is important in supporting sustainable development, improvements in agricultural production, carbon accounting and natural resource management within the PICTs.

This project will, therefore, seek to enable and mentor the PICT laboratories in developing a solution to the individual and shared issues they face in delivering analytical services to their customers.

Collaboration

The creation of a laboratory network will allow better regional coordination of international stakeholders.

Soil Science Australia is collaborating with CSIRO, GLOSOLAN (Global Soil Laboratory Network), ASPAC (Australasian Soil and Plant Analysis Council), FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations), Manaaki Whenua- Landcare New Zealand, NZSSS as well as the many Pacific Farmer Organisations in the Region.