The soil's physical properties are vital to the ecological and economic sustainability of land.
They control the movement of water and air through the soil, and the ease with which roots can penetrate the soil. Damage to the soil can change these properties and reduce plant growth, regardless of nutrient status. Decline in the physical properties of the soil can take considerable expense and many years to correct, and can increase the risk of soil erosion by water or wind.
|The primary functions of the soil are to provide plants with air, water, nutrients and a rooting medium for growth and physical support.|
Safeguarding the soil resource for present and future generations is a key task of land managers. Loss of soil condition (soil degradation) can significantly affect the environmental sustainability of the soil, and the economic sustainability of farming businesses.
There is more to measuring soil condition than just assessing carrying capacity, crop yield or soil fertility. Often, not enough attention is given to:
- the basic role of soil condition in efficient and sustained production
- the effect of soil condition on the farm's gross profit margin
- the long-term planning needed to sustain good soil condition
- the need for land managers to be able to identify and predict the effects on soil of the condition of their short and medium-term land management decisions.
These relationships have been used to develop VSA. The VSA Field Guide has been developed to help land managers assess soil condition easily, quickly, reliably and cheaply on a paddock scale. It requires little equipment, training or technical skills. Assessing and monitoring soil condition on your farm with VSA, and following guidelines for prevention or recovery of soil degradation, can help you develop and implement sustainable land management practices.