Soils are critical for all life on earth. They act as a water filter and a growing medium; provide habitat for billions of organisms, contributing to biodiversity; and supply most of the antibiotics used to fight diseases. Soil is the basis of our nation’s agroecosystems which provide us with food, fibre and foliage and not only underpin sustainable productivity, but they improve the resilience of Queensland’s farms. With World Soil Day this Saturday, 5 December, the Queensland Farmers’ Federation is focussing its attention on the importance of healthy soil for agricultural production and for protecting natural environments.
Australia has ancient soils that are typically low in organic matter and nutrients. With the ongoing impacts of a changing climate, increased agricultural production and population growth, our soils are facing significant challenges and require greater attention and management. To chart a course forward, the Australian Government has committed to the development of a National Soil Strategy by June 2021. Over 500 stakeholders, including scientists, government officials, industry group and farmers were engaged in the initial consultation phase for the development of the National Soil Strategy. The Strategy will ultimately contain the vision, shared goals and objectives for managing soil across all landscapes, from our cities to the regions, from our farms to our natural environments.
With agriculture expected to produce more in the future with less – less land, less water, less energy and fewer nutrient inputs, the National Soil Strategy must give the sector the attention it deserves. Achieving this aim will require novel soil management strategies that can only be accomplished through investment in, and co-ordination of, interdisciplinary research and development which is accessible to farmers. Noting that soils now provide farmers with green market and agricultural stewardship opportunities. With more living individual organisms in a tablespoon of soil than there are people on the earth, we all have a part to play to ensure the health of our soils. It will require all levels of government, industry, research institutions, and every individual being responsible for caring for this invaluable resource.