Concerns Over the Poor Soil Quality in Australia

Soil quality is important because as a natural asset, it greatly contributes to the ecosystem supporting a nation’s economic, social and environmental wellbeing. Unfortunately for Australia, the countys’ soils have been rated as one of the world’s most unproductive and nutrient poor countries. Aside from being low in nutrients Australian soils are mostly shallow and have high salt content. This means only a small portion of Australian soils are suitable for agricultural purposes. As a result, there is only enough food produced for domestic consumption, leaving very little available for exportation.

According to the 2018 World Wildlife Fund Living Planet report, Australia’s infertile soil provides very little water and usable land to sustainably support the lifestyle of the nation’s population.

A Closer Look at Australia’s Degraded Soil

First off, readers need to understand that reference to soil denotes the land surface that was formed through periods of time. It contains layers of mineral and organic particles produced by weathered rocks, and contributed by living organisms and transported sediments. Moreover, soils also play hosts to various disease-causing fungi, bacteria and viruses that cause degradation and land contamination. Additionally, land surfaces may also contain toxic compounds from applications of pesticides and agricultural herbicides.

Soil degradation also denotes the loss of soil fertility due to decline in organic matters that make the soil fertile and structurally stable. Erosion, excessive flooding, increase in acidity, alkalinity and/or salinity, as well as presence of pollutants and toxic compounds are the most common causes of soil degradation.

In Australia, the known causes of soil degradation include land clearing, water extraction, cattle and sheep grazing. Actually, the country has been cited and criticised for its poor soil conservation practices, and little regard for environmental protection.

Australia’s degraded soils and the continuing decline of their health have greatly affected the agricultural industry and other industries relying on the wellbeing of the natural environment. As the population increases, the more severe the adverse effects caused by degraded soils.

Soil experts explain that the conditions of degraded soils are not easily reversible. Since soil rehabilitation will take decades to achieve, the ecosystem will suffer from the impaired biodiversity of environments.

Nevertheless, the Australian government was able to address the country’s agricultural problems by introducing and implementing long-term reforms. So far, the actions taken led to the country’s transformation into a major agricultural power.

Examples of Measures That Helped Reverse The Adverse Effects of Soil Degradation

Crop rotation is one of the most common measures that farmers practise to improve soil health and to avoid degradation. Doing so allows the soil to replenish the nutrients used up by the crop previously grown in the same area.

Yet a more radical recommendation is for the population to reduce food consumption. That way, the few arable portions of land used for food production can take a rest from tilling, cattle and sheep grazing, use of agrochemicals and water extractions.

In the construction industry, which also has links to land use, degraded soils are improved and strengthened in order to be usable as stable structural foundations. Construction companies apply ingredients by way of chemical injection to the ground. The injected chemical mix will solidify sand particles to form a permanent block that has the capacity to carry the weight transferred to the ground by the structure or building.