Australia must lead global move towards soil security

12 February 2011

Top international soil scientists have called on Australian governments and industry to lead the world in collaborating with farmers to increase soil carbon for improved soil security.

The call was made as part of the recent global soil carbon summit held at the University of Sydney, with the support of the Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and the United States Studies Centre's Dow Sustainability Program, Adjunct Professor in Sustainability at the US Studies Centre and summit convenor, Robert Hill said soil issues needed to have priority alongside climate issues.

"Australian agriculture is set to experience the destructive effects of ongoing climate change first and hardest. By improving the sequestration of carbon in soil to enhance soil security we can increase production and reduce carbon emissions at the same time. It is a win-win solution."

Professor Mark Adams, Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, said soil security required increasing the quantity of carbon in soils through the adoption of sustainable farming practices. Improved soil security would underpin more sustainable food, water and energy production, at the same time as mitigating climate change.

According to the international experts, Australia is in a unique position to lead the effort to improve soil security with our agricultural sector among the world's first to confront the challenges of climate change. The science and technology is already available for farmers to manage and increase soil carbon, but further support for the work is needed.

This month's summit marked the beginning of an international soil carbon initiative to improve understanding and raise awareness of soil security in Australia and around the world. It set four goals for future achievement:

  • as a society we must recognise the fundamental importance of soil and soil carbon for food security and the survival and health of human populations
  • soil issues must have priority alongside climate issues
  • soil security will be achieved through soil carbon sequestration and optimisation for social, ecological and economic sustainability
  • the science and technology is available for farmers to manage and increase soil carbon in accordance with their local situations, and they must be supported in doing so, through public policy and community recognition.

Contact: Professor Mark Adams

Phone: 02 8627 1010

Email: 2a2435587807543915177431382939531b60032c434a1418