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Soils

Healthy soils and landscapes are a very important natural resource. Soils provide us with many natural resources such as food and fibre production and perform important services such as filtering pollutants, absorbing water to reduce flooding and degrading organic waste.

Soils can easily become degraded, leading to reduced vegetation and water quality. Local Land Services supports a range of activities that are aimed at addressing key issues such as:

  • soil fertility - salinity, acidity, nutrients
  • soil biology - the number, condition and type of soil biota
  • physical characteristics - structure, sodicity and erosion.

Supporting healthy soils and landscapes is critical to supporting resilient, profitable and sustainable farm businesses.

Industry collaborators and resources

NSW Department of Primary Industries
LLS work closely with DPI to provide up to date technical advice and support.

NSW Office of Environment and Heritage
The Office of Environment and Heritage works to protect and conserve the environment, including the natural environment, Aboriginal country, culture and heritage and our built heritage, and manages NSW national parks and reserves.

Natural Resources Commission
The Natural Resources Commission provides the NSW Government with independent advice on managing natural resources.

Department of the Environment (Commonwealth)
The Department of the Environment is responsible for all federal matters pertaining to the environment.

Soil Health

What are the characteristics and functions of healthy soils?

The health of an agricultural soil is a composite result of the:

  • chemical,
  • physical, and
  • biological properties of the soil.

It may help to consider the qualities of unhealthy and healthy soils.

How do you know if the soil is unhealthy?

  • Some soils seem to be "dead," having few if any visible living organisms in them.
  • Sometimes a crust develops after a heavy thunderstorm, leading to water runoff and poor crop establishment.
  • Soil compaction creates a dense layer that is impermeable to air and water and inhibits root growth.
  • Soil erosion creates rills in fields and can carry the most fertile portion of the soil, the topsoil, to gullies and streams.
  • Crop yields have decreased. It is also possible that increasing amounts of fertilizers, pesticides and tillage are needed to maintain yields.

What is a healthy soil?

Healthy soils function to:

  • sustain biological productivity
  • store and cycle water and nutrients
  • decompose organic matter
  • inactivate toxic compounds
  • suppress pathogens
  • protect water quality and enhance landscape health.