$233.8 million to improve, protect soils

Joint media release with Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud and Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley

  • The 2021-22 Budget will deliver $233.6 million in new funding to improve and protect Australia’s soil
  • Funding includes new incentives for farmers to encourage them to test their soil and improve productivity, profitability and participation in the Emissions Reduction Fund
  • The funding includes $67 million to support new food and organic waste initiatives and divert waste going into landfill

The 2021-22 Budget confirms the Australian Government’s commitment to protecting and better managing our soil.

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud said $233.6 million in new funding will be used to help implement the National Soil Strategy and associated measures as part of the Commonwealth Interim Action Plan.

“Healthy soils are essential to ensuring a thriving and competitive agriculture sector,” Minister Littleproud said.

“Through our $120 million investment in the National Soil Monitoring and Incentives Pilot, we’re trialling new measures to bolster our understanding of Australia’s soil condition and improve how our soil can be better managed.

“We’re going to tap into the vast amounts of soil data and information already held by farmers. We’re also providing incentives to farmers to increase soil testing on the condition they feed this important information back into the program.

“This is a win-win for our farmers. It will help them focus their efforts to improve productivity and profitability, helping to meet the sector’s ambitious goals of $100 billion by 2030.

“It will also help governments, researchers and other users of soil data to deliver better products and services to farmers, such as more targeted extension services and better tools to improve their drought resilience.”

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said the government was committing an additional $37 million in the 2021-22 Budget to support a National Soil Carbon Innovation Challenge.

“We will support the efforts of Australia’s best and brightest as they develop the technologies to achieve the Technology Investment Roadmap’s goal of reducing measurement costs to less than $3 per hectare per year,” Minister Taylor said.

“The key to unlocking the untapped potential of our soils is reducing the cost of measurement, so farmers, suppliers and researchers can understand the impact different management practices have.

“Our approach to reducing emissions is innovation not elimination. We will work hand-in-hand with farmers to increase soil health, productivity and resilience.”

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said $67 million is also being invested to expand Australia’s organic waste processing infrastructure under the Food Waste for Healthy Soils Fund.

“FOGO is a term that few might be familiar with, but Food Organics and Garden Organics will play a critical role in reducing pressure on landfills, in increasing productivity for farmers and in sequestering carbon,” Minister Ley said.

“This important initiative grows industry capacity, diverting up to 3.4 million tonnes of organic material from landfill to productive use in agricultural soils.

“It will generate $401 million in industry value, create up to 2700 additional jobs and establish an important model for wider recycling and soil partnerships.

“Delivering cost effective, high quality organic matter to farms will help improve productivity and find a valuable use for this untapped resource.

“It will help improve soil organic carbon, deliver more productive farms, protect our biodiversity and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.”

The Budget will also fund a new education accreditation in soil science developed in collaboration with Soil Science Australia, and deliver a National Soil Science Challenge grants program so that researchers can address fundamental gaps in soil science.

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