Digging in to improve Australia’s poor soil health

A national action plan to improve Australia’s poor soil health will include a country wide soil monitoring program.

Agriculture Minister Murray Watt launched the plan on Tuesday that sets out to improve Australia’s poor and declining soil health.

While rich in biodiversity, Australian soil is among the oldest and most nutrient poor in the world according to the national soil strategy.

Senator Watt said the new action plan identifies four key priorities to respond to challenges like climate change.

“Soil is central to Australia’s agricultural industry and central to our government’s climate ambitions,” he said.

“The action plan is supported by $20 million announced in the 2023-24 Budget for bilateral partnership agreements with the states and territories to deliver locally appropriate activities.”

The five-year plan is the first under the 20 year National Soil Strategy released in 2021.

The plan will see a national framework to monitor and map Australia’s soil health, and a holistic policy where soil is protected for the environment and food production.

But it does not include the re-establishment of the soils advocate role, a position that was was discontinued in August.

“We were disappointed that the role of the national sword advocate was not continued,” Eli Court from the advocacy group Soils for Life told AAP.

While welcoming the plan the soil advocacy group said Australia’s soils need urgent attention.

“I think it’s a good step, and we look forward to more being done and I certainly do feel a sense of urgency,” Mr Court said.

The group works supporting farmers to improve their soil health.

“The government has put a stake in the ground and said ‘we have a plan,’ and now is the point where we look at how that plan is rolling out and whether it’s being effective.”


Liv Casben
(Australian Associated Press)


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