Soil health

DRAFT

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A building block of life and prosperity

Healthy soils are central to human health and wellbeing.  They support the production of food and fibre we need to survive and support the ecosystems which enable clean water, pure air, biodiversity and environmental quality.

A teaspoon of soil is estimated to contain several thousand species of micro-organisms, and other invertebrates such as nematodes (round worms), annelids (earth worms), and microarthropods (springtails and mites). These soil organisms play very important roles such as breaking down organic matter and providing nutrients to plants.

Healthy soils are also vital to our region’s economic prosperity, helping to generate more than $1.66 billion worth of agricultural production to the region’s economy each year.

Our region’s soils are ancient and fragile. The plants, animals and microorganisms that have maintained them for millennia are stressed mainly through the introduction of European plants, animals and farming techniques. Today, there are many issues that affect our soils and landscapes including climate change, acidification, compaction, salinity, erosion, dumping of clean or contaminated soil, fertility decline, and decline of biodiversity.

Safeguarding the health of our soils is vital to our region’s future. The costs from degraded soils and their management can be very high and impact agricultural producers, commerce, industry and urban users, and the natural ecosystem.