Skip to content

Focus on Healthy Soils

Black cowsNorth Coast Local Land Services is celebrating the 2015 International Year of Soils through a range of projects and activities that focus on the importance of soil.  Sustainable soil and land management is central to ensuring a healthy environment, productive food systems and improved rural livelihoods. 

The UN General Assembly declared 2015 the International Year of Soils which aims to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions.

North Coast Local Land Services has recently concluded a project that established 27 demonstration farms across a range of industries including grazing (beef, sheep & dairy) and cropping (vegetables, herbs and fodder) extending from Richmond catchment in the north to the Hastings catchment in the south and inland to the Tablelands.

The project, Action on the Ground – Best Management Practices of Carbon Management on Northern Rivers Farms, was supported by North Coast Local Land Services and Landcare Networks through funding received from the Australian Government.

Each farmer involved in the project was offered a financial incentive  to adopt and implement land management practice changes with an aim to increase soil carbon in the soil, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, particularly nitrous oxide, and implement innovative practices.

Participants in soil projectSelina Miller, Land Services Officer with North Coast Local Land Services said, "Finding innovative ways to protect and enhance soil quality is important because soils are the basis for healthy food production."

She continued, "Some of the practices implemented in this project included reducing or replacing inorganic nitrogen based fertilises with applications of an organic soil amendment such as compost, compost tea, composted manures and chicken litter."

"Our participants composted dairy solids and turned on-farm waste into woodchips and compost for mulching, they also adopted biological and conservational farm practices including minimum till, direct seeding, leaving crop residues, rotational grazing and cell grazing." Selina said.

"We were pleased with the outcomes achieved under this project, particularly soil organic carbon percentage change found in the surface 10 cm of soil between 2012 and 2014. Treated plots gained 0.43% and control plots (not treated) fell by 0.13%. This difference was found to be statistically significant (P=98%) indicating a positive response to organic soil amendments applied and adoption of innovative practice changes." Selina concluded.

In recognition of the International Year of Soils 2015, North Coast Local Land Services has announced sponsorship of the National Biological Farming Conference and Expo, convened by Soilcare Inc.  The Conference will be held on 7 - 8 November at Southern Cross University in Lismore, NSW.  

The key objective of the conference is to facilitate the discussion of best-practice, sustainable agriculture and offer farmers and agri-businesses educational and networking opportunities.   

Keynote speakers include international speakers who are world leaders in the field of biological farming and award-winning farmers who have been recognised for their leadership and innovative farming practices.  

Lindy Brown, Team Leader Land Services, said of the sponsorship, "We're excited to be involved with a forum that will advance biological farming systems and address issues of productivity and sustainability."

She continued, "Healthy soil is critical for food security and a sustainable future for the North Coast, it is vital that we all continue to improve the health of our soil resource."

North Coast Local Land Services is continuing to invest in a number of soil health projects in the coming years with investment from the Australian Government National Landcare Programme.

Media contact:           Selina Miller Phone 6604 1112

Photo caption:       

Image 1 – Some of the participants in the Soil project.

Image 2 – Agriculture is vital earner for the North Coast Region