National soil strategy released

BENDIGO's Michael Crawford helped develop a national soil strategy which aims to provide better information and tools for farmers.

Dr Crawford is research director for agriculture production with the Department of Environment and Primary Industries.

He represented Victoria during the strategy's two-and-a-half-year development.

The document, titled Securing Australia’s soil for profitable industries and healthy landscapes, is Australia's first national, coordinated approach to managing soils.

Dr Crawford said it aimed to efficiently and effectively coordinate investment in soil research in Australia and its delivery.

"We want to bring together all the providers of research so we are not duplicating," he said.

"There is a lot of working going on to improve soil management for farmers and we are targeting their highest priorities." 

Priorities include land degradation, soil fertility and biology.

Dr Crawford said a key objective was to make new knowledge available to advisers who worked with farmers and land managers.

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce launched the strategy on Tuesday, saying it showed a commitment to ensuring healthy soils as an important precursor to healthy farm businesses.

“This strategy will ensure soils research will become more targeted and collaborative and that research will better meet the needs of farmers, contributing to the long term viability and productivity of their businesses," he said.

“It’s all about providing better information and tools to our farmers, scientists and policymakers on soil use and management to assist them into the future.

“This strategy is a road map, and 150 different organisations from across Australia will be involved in rolling it out over the next five years."

Chief science adviser for the federal Department of Agriculture Michele Barson will discuss the strategy on Wednesday at the Soil Change Matters International Workshop in Bendigo.

The strategy is available at daff.gov.au/soilstrategy

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