Soil Health and Condition
Soil health is the ability of soil to function as a living ecosystem in relation to its natural capacity.
A healthy soil:
- is fit-for-purpose;
- sustains biological productivity both above and below ground;
- maintains landscape function and environmental quality;
- regulates our climate;
- promotes plant, animal and human health; and
- is productive, resilient and profitable.
Due to the multifaceted nature of soils, there is no single approach for measuring soil health.
DEW collates and analyses data from a range of soil health indicators to monitor and report on trends in the health and condition of soil in the agricultural areas of South Australia.
The key indicators of soil health and condition that DEW monitors are:
- Soil Erosion Protection (wind and water)
- Soil Acidity
- Land salinity
- Soil Carbon
- Crop Water Use Efficiency
- Soil Biological Health
The monitoring of soil health and condition provides DEW and our partners with a scientific basis to inform and contribute to reports and plans such as:
- Trend and Condition report cards: Days protected from soil erosion; Soil Acidity
- State of the Environment Reporting for South Australia
- Australian State of the Environment Reporting
- State and Regional Landscape Plans and reports
A wide range of survey methods and data analysis techniques are used to measure soil health and condition. However, some direct measures are difficult or expensive to undertake, meaning that surrogate or indirect measures have been used as indicators of condition. For example, it is very difficult and expensive to measure soil erosion. It is far more practical, and useful to measure the protection of land from the risk of erosion over time. If the protection from erosion is improving, this will be demonstrated by less actual soil erosion in the long term.