New report launched to chart direction for NZ soils
Published: 16 December 2015 - by Alison Collins
Soil is fundamental to life on Earth – and as our soil and land resources come under increasing pressure, choices will need to be made for optimum and sustained use.That’s according to a Ministry of Primary Industries report, titled ‘Future requirements for soil management in New Zealand’. The report, recently released by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy, was led by the National Land Resource Centre (NLRC).
Minister Guy said the report would help underpin the direction of future soil research and inform future policies and practice.
“Our GDP, a big chunk of it, relies on 15cm of soil and so we shouldn’t lose sight of that. This report is going to make sure we never lose sight of the importance of soil.”
He acknowledged scientists played a key role in finding solutions to the pressures facing New Zealand soils.
NLRC director and Landcare Research portfolio leader Dr Alison Collins, who led the team from AgResearch, Scion, Plant and Food Research and regional councils in writing the report, said “the report provides a view of where we are and what we need to do next”.
Some of the key pressures identified in the report include addition of chemicals, inadequate vegetation cover, urban expansion, poor matching of land use to inherent capability, irrigation and past deforestation.
“While New Zealand is not behind its peers, there are opportunities to learn from several of these countries to improve the stewardship of our soil resources. Overall we’re doing OK but there’s a few areas we could do more to realise greater opportunity from our soils. Our recommendations suggest some of the ways in which we might want to collectively realise those opportunities.”
Two of the key actions proposed included the formation of a national soil management group and a national action plan to set future direction on the practices, policies and research for soils.
Dr Collins said a key aim of the report was to “secure the valuable resource for future generations” and the approximate $40.8 billion of our exports that are reliant on soil.
“We are and always will be a soil-dependent nation,” she said.