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Soil RD&E stocktake

Soil RDE stocktake

Soils RD&E results are needed for better evidence based decisions

Australia’s soils are a major national asset underpinning our agricultural productivity and ability to be a net exporter of food valued at $23 billion (DAFF 2009). Assets need maintenance. Australian agriculture’s capacity to increase total factor productivity to help meet the 70 percent increase in world food demand anticipated by 2050 (CSIRO 2010), whilst managing for climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, will depend heavily on managing and manipulating the soil resource base.


The key challenges are to improve water use (including soil water) and management, and to tackle the problem of soil nutrition to reduce reliance on the high energy requirements for fertiliser production. Simultaneously, there are expectations that soils will be managed to store more carbon, and that agriculture will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, such as those associated with fertiliser use. At the community level, expectations that agricultural landscapes will deliver high quality ecosystem services, such as clean air and water, healthy soils, food and fibre products and protected biodiversity, are growing. While Australia has some world class soils R&D, the knowledge and information needed to meet these challenges is not currently available.

Stocktake methods

One hundred and twenty stakeholder organisations were invited to provide information on their role, projects, funding, collaborators and human and physical resources, and views on the future for soils RD&E in their organisation. Detailed responses were received from 45 organisations and their data were used to assess investment in soils RD&E for 2010-11 across Australian, state and territory government agencies, tertiary education institutions and the private sector. This assessment was supplemented by information from surveys of consultants and individual soil scientists.

Link to stocktake: