image of soil in hands

WHAT IS SOILS FOR LIFE?

Soils for Life is an Australian non-profit Registered Environment Organisation, founded and chaired by Australia's former Governor General, Major General The Honourable Michael Jeffery, AC AO(Mil) CVO MC (Retd).

We encourage the wide adoption of regenerative landscape management practices to restore landscape health and produce quality and nutrient-dense food and fibre.

We support innovative farmers and land managers demonstrating high performance in regenerating their landscape whilst maintaining or increasing production. We believe their stories are compelling and can provide confidence for those who want to make a change from conventional practices.

Soils for Life has deductible gift recipient (DGR) status. Please contact us if you would like to make a donation.

OUR PURPOSE

The Soils for Life Program has a principal purpose of enhancing the natural environment through the provision of information and education on innovative leading performance in regenerative landscape management, with a particular focus on the Australian rural landscape.

OUR OBJECTIVE

To facilitate positive and sustained change in how the Australian landscape is managed to ensure a thriving natural environment for the benefit of all Australians.

Our PROGRAM

The Soils for Life Program is focused on the following actions:

  • Discover: Clearly document evidence of how land managers are achieving economic, environmental social outcomes through application of regenerative landscape management on their properties.
  • Inform: Demonstrate and promote widespread understanding of the benefits of applying regenerative practices and maintaining healthy soils in our agricultural landscapes.
  • Foster and facilitate change: Provide and support programs that enable growth and continuous improvement in agricultural landscape and water management practices across Australia.

HOW WE ARE ENCOURAGING CHANGE

Soils for Life believes that we can heal our degraded landscape and address related global challenges through adopting regenerative landscape management practices which focus on the integrated management of soil, water and vegetation.

We are striving for a comprehensive coordinated approach focused on encouraging our farmers and land managers to adopt these practices.

Our priority of effort is in projects which encourage more farmers to adopt regenerative landscape management. We document and demonstrate evidence of productive regenerative agriculture across Australia. We draw from the experiences of farmers who are already successfully leading the way and share these stories to illustrate what can be achieved and how.

The report Innovations for Regenerative Landscape Management published in September 2012 was our first major milestone in achieving Soil for Life’s program objectives. As we move through the subsequent phases and projects, we seek to facilitate a comprehensive and coordinated approach to regenerative landscape management to support the necessary cultural change across Australia.

As a nation we must recognise the need for a unified, cooperative approach for all farmers, land managers and agricultural policy makers, scientific agencies - and consumers. And we need governments to take the lead. Given the importance and complexity of the challenge we believe that the effort must be lead at Deputy Prime Minister/Deputy Premier level.

The appointment of our Chairman, Major General The Honourable Michael Jeffery AC, AO(Mil), CVO, MC (Retd) as Australia's first Advocate for Soil Health in October 2012 was a significant step in achieving this.

By making regenerative landscape management the norm in our agricultural landscape, Australia can play a leading role in showing the world what can be done in reversing landscape degradation and sustainably producing nutrient-dense food. But we need a comprehensive, coordinated strategy and widespread change to agricultural paradigms to improve land management practices.

By supporting wide adoption of regenerative landscape management practices, we have the opportunity to make a significant contribution to national, and global, social wellbeing.

Supporting a farmer and encouraging change

SUPPORTING OUR FARMERS AND LAND MANAGERS

The current degraded state of the Australian natural landscape is further challenged by stresses from our changing climate, water security, future energy options, population growth, increasing demand on resources and its capacity to substantially increase our food and fibre production. The interrelated character of these challenges can be best met through regenerative landscape management practices. We must take a comprehensive coordinated approach to support our farmers and land managers to apply these.

Australian land managers and agricultural communities will need to be encouraged to change their management practices to more sustainable natural systems, reducing their reliance on increasingly scarce and expensive inputs – fossil fuel, extracted minerals, chemicals and water. The biodiversity of our landscape will need to be restored through an investment in, amongst other things, improved soil health, well-managed landscape hydrology and targeted revegetation. Change on such a large scale will require relevant information, sound supporting policies, extensive education and focused, effective incentives.

Governments need to adopt policies that create incentives for sustainable farming practices. Farmers need additional rewards for better attention to natural resource management. This may mean dearer food in some cases, but it will ensure greater protection of natural resources and the capacity to continue producing enough food.

Moreover, in Australia, food is often treated as a bulk commodity which is cheap, however food is strongly linked to the health of the nation. High quality nutritional food should be available to all groups within our population but there appears to be a society-wide lack of appreciation of the fundamental role of food in our health. Again, governments should take the lead to better inform the public so they can better understand and accept consequential price rises. Consumers need to make choices that reflect the true value of food and fibres and the way they are produced.

Australia has a tradition of leadership in agricultural science, so now is the time for government to properly fund research and development and not allow the decline in investment to continue to decline.

Science and technology have a vital role to play in ensuring adequate food production and governments cannot ignore the need for scientific understanding of the ecosystems that underpin agricultural activity which impacts directly on them.

We all have a role to play in the regeneration and preservation of our landscape and the ecosystem services it provide - for the benefit of us all.




Michael Jeffery, Chair of Soils for Life and Australia's Advocate for Soil Health, talks about the importance of our farmers and the need for a coordinated approach in regenerating our landscape: