The General Assembly of the United Nations has designated 2015 the International Year of Soils and December 5 as World Soil Day.

In Parliament this morning I moved a motion recognising the importance of the United Nations initiative.

As the global population is expected to grow to 9 billion by 2050, we are rightly questioning the capacity to meet our global food needs.  Improved soil health will be vital for this success.

Soil health will also be crucial for food security, productivity and profitability. 

While there is much discussion in the Parliament and the community about water resources, we need to be talking more about our precious soil resources.

As former Governor General and now Soil Health Advocate Major General Michael Jeffrey has pointed out, the greatest potential for water efficiency lies in making better use of the 86% of rainfall initially falling on our soils of which a 50% wastefully evaporates because it cannot filtrate the landscape.

Current rates of soil erosion by wind and water across much of Australia now exceed soil formation. Research from the CSIRO released in July 2013 indicates that Australian soils are losing about 1.6 million tonnes of carbon per year from wind erosion and dust storms alone. 

Our soils are the lifeblood of human existence and the nutritional value of the food we eat is largely determined by the quality of the soil from which it grows.

• As policy makers we need to be spending more time talking about, and then acting upon, the need to do more to ensure the sustainable management and protection of our soil resources.


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