Government welcomes "Restore the Soil: Prosper the Nation" report

 

28-Mar-2018

Government welcomes "Restore the Soil: Prosper the Nation" report

Australia’s National Soils Advocate, Major General Michael Jeffery has welcomed the Federal Government’s reaction to his third report, “Restore the Soil: Prosper the Nation”.

General Jeffery presented his report to the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and the Minister for Agriculture, the Hon David Litleproud has advised that it will be considered shortly by the Agricultural Ministerial Council.

“In my role as the National Soils Advocate, I have sought the advice of thousands of farmers, and travelled widely both here and internationally. It is clear that the great majority of farmers want to leave their landscapes in better condition than they found them, but need greater community understanding and support to do it”, General Jeffery said.

“I have found that across 60 per cent of our agricultural landscape, there is a need to address such issues as declining levels of soil carbon, soil acidification, erosion and inadequate stream and water management. Immediate and ongoing action is needed to ensure that Australian agriculture can continue to be productive, clean and profitable, and to demonstrate the use of sustainable management”.

“My report provides a series of recommendations aimed at properly integrating the management of our key strategic soil, water and plant assets, fundamental to maximising agricultural productivity and prosperity”.

“Australian agriculture must also demonstrate the use of sustainable management practices that our trading partners are now looking for, and to build the resilience we need to adapt to climate change and associated extremes in weather”.

“I’m delighted that the Council, which includes Federal, State and Territory governments, will consider the implementation of my recommendations. State and Territory governments own a great deal of Australia’s landscape, and implementing this report will provide huge economic, environmental and social benefits to farmers and the nation”, General Jeffery said.

“State and Territory governments also control the school curricula, and one of my key recommendations is for school gardens to be established in every primary and junior high school as a national school garden program, implemented through the Australian Curriculum”.

“Soil and water security will increasingly underpin global social stability and security. Our water, our soil and vegetation assets are so important that all three should be declared as key national, natural strategic assets, to be managed accordingly and in an integrated way”.

“Mismanaging any one, invariably means the other two will also fail”, General Jeffery said.

Restore the soil: Prosper the nation - FULL REPORT Restore the soil: Prosper the nation - FULL REPORT (988 KB)

Restore the soil: Prosper the nation - EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Restore the soil: Prosper the nation - EXECUTIVE SUMMARY (465 KB)

 


The major recommendations of the report are:

  • The National Soils Policy should recognise Australia’s soils, water and vegetation as national natural strategic assets

  • Agree to a National Soils Policy with the objective of maintaining and restoring the health of the Australian agricultural landscape

  • Establish a long term soil, water, vegetation and agricultural knowledge program that encourages collaboration between scientists and successful farmers

  • Increase funding to the National Landcare Programme to encourage more farmers to adopt regenerative land management practices

  • Through the Deans of Agriculture, stocktake and where appropriate, improve government owned extension service capacity to guarantee timely, accurate and transparent information delivery to farmers Australia wide, including improving the career planning prospects for potential and current agricultural scientists

  • Acknowledge the role of farmers as stewards of Australia’s agricultural land

  • School gardens to be established in every primary and junior high school as a national school garden program, implemented through the Australian Curriculum

  • Support existing research directed at priorities identified through a stocktake of our scientific knowledge of soils and RD&E capacity

  • Support regulatory consistency for farmers

  • A permanent role for the National Soil Advocate

  • Opportunities for expanding Australia’s international influence

  • Fixing the paddock” using regenerative farming practices

  • Plant and soil microbiome research to underpin adoption of regenerative practices

  • A nationally consistent approach to soil data and information is needed to support the development of digital agriculture in Australia, so that all parties (government and non-government) work together to develop the data base standards and governance arrangements needed to support a diversity of best practice agricultural business models to achieve the best outcomes for Australian agriculture

  • National adoption of the Soil Science Teaching Principles

  • Address the need to monitor global soil, water and food security

  • Enhance Australia’s reputation in the global food system

     

    For more information, contact: Niree Creed, Media, Soils for Life:0418625595