Save our soils: 2020 snapshot reveals new threats
The top threats facing Australian soils — increased drought, bushfires, erosion, contamination, urban encroachment, acidity and salinity — must be addressed or prevented through a nationally co-ordinated approach before irreversible damage is done according to the national peak body for soils.
The annual Save our Soils: Australian Soil Snapshot 2020 commissioned by Soil Science Australia, released today on World Soil Day, suggests protection of Australia’s most valuable natural asset, now worth $1 trillion per year, will demand coordinated strategies, data-sharing, research and on-farm application to achieve sustainable land management on a national scale.
“Soil is the living skin of the earth, supporting our food production, economy and health, yet our valuable soils are under increasing attack,” said Associate Professor Luke Mosley, Federal President of Soil Science Australia.
Our home soils in Australia are some of the oldest on the planet and due to their slow formation, are a finite resource that needs to be protected for future generations and our national prosperity.
“Longer and harsher droughts are sucking the life out of soils and battering many regional communities as well,” said Associate Professor Mosley. “The extreme and widespread bushfires and dust storms in late 2019 and early 2020 compounded these effects and resulted in severe soil erosion in many areas”.
The Save Our Soils report also highlighted other soil issues like urban encroachment onto valuable agricultural land, acidification, salinisation and contamination as common threats that are increasing across Australia.
“On one level, we understand how to fix these problems, but this will require investment and everyone working together on this urgent national priority,” said Associate Professor Mosley. “There were some positive developments in 2020 with an integrated National Soils Strategy under development by the Commonwealth Government. There has also been a welcome focus on investing in soil carbon sequestration and technologies to help fight climate change using our soils” he said.
“Science, scientists and innovation will also be critical to saving our soils” he stated. “We need to increase support of our scientists and soil professionals to build their capacity to provide solutions to our soil issues, working collaboratively with government, industry and farmers”.
Soil Science Australia is the national peak body for soils, soil science and soil scientists.