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Soil survey aims to help growers make informed decisions

Victorian Soil Coordinator Dr Peter Fisher
Photo: University of Melbourne

Recent climate extremes of drought and flood have only increased the impact of declining soil function, but anecdotal evidence suggests soils in a healthy condition cope better and recover faster from extreme climate impacts.

The 2023-24 federal budget included $302 million over five years for climate-smart, sustainable agriculture under the Natural Heritage Trust – $36 million of which is allocated specifically for initiatives to improve soil health, while a further $158 million has been set aside for “impactful, on-ground, climate-smart, sustainable agriculture projects”.

This funding also includes continued support for the eight regional soil coordinators attached to the Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hubs as part of a National Soil Community of Practice.

Targeted investments

The Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) wants to target its investment to assist farmers to make well-informed soil management decisions. To this end, DAFF is supporting regional soil coordinators to undertake a national survey to collect information on the soil issues and topics that farmers feel sufficiently well-informed about and those issues where greater support is needed, as well as which farming systems and technologies require further research and development before they can be economically and practically applied on-farm.

The survey is anonymous and simple to complete; all questions are multiple choice, with the option to add more information if required.

The survey will ask:

  1. how severe you believe soil issues such as acidity, compaction or erosion are on your farm;
  2. whether you use soil practices such as liming, no-till, gypsum, organic amendments or deep ripping;
  3. your opinion on which of these practices requires more extension and/or research; and
  4. some information about your farm, such as the size and type of enterprise.

More than 600 responses have been received to date, but it is important that as many farmers as possible complete this survey to provide a true picture of what farmers want in future soil extension and research investment.

Opinions from across the sector

The researchers would also like to get the opinions of non-farmers working in agricultural industries, so if you are a consultant, natural resources management worker, or extension and research scientist working in the agriculture sector, please also complete the survey about the region you work in.

A collaboration between DAFF, the state and territory governments, and other key stakeholders including GRDC, resulted in 2014 in the release of the ‘National Soil Research, Development and Extension Strategy’, which was used to develop the ‘National Soil Action Plan 2023 to 2028’ released in 2021.

The results of this survey will be provided to DAFF and made available to other organisations including rural development corporations and the eight Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hubs to inform the design and delivery of targeted soil interventions that address priorities under the National Soil Action Plan.

The survey can be accessed via this link:

More information: Samantha Schelling, 0403 106 404,

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