Soil & Land

Southern Cross to deliver low-cost soil testing under $54.4m government program

Southern Cross University has been engaged by the Australian Government in a $54.4 million program to support farmers and land managers with soil testing.

Over two years, the Pilot Soil Monitoring and Incentives Program, a key part of the $214.9 million National Soil Package, will support farmers and land managers to access low-cost soil sampling and certified testing in exchange for sharing their data.

Land managers may be eligible for benefits of up to $10,000 and receive assistance from Commonwealth-funded soil extension officers to interpret their soil test results, setting Australian farmers up for success in meeting Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) requirements.

Mr Ben Roche, Vice President (Engagement) at Southern Cross University, said the University was delighted to partner with the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) to administer the program.

“Southern Cross is renowned for world class research in soils and soil fertility. Understanding and managing soil properties in deeper soil layers gives the land managers and farmers better tools to preserve their land against changing climatic conditions,” Mr Roche said.

“We are excited to work with farmers and scientific labs, including the University’s Environmental Analysis Laboratory (EAL), to offer a comprehensive suite of soil sampling and testing, as well as putting land managers in touch with soil extension officers to interpret soil test results to better manage their valuable assets and enhance soil productivity, health and resilience.”

Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia, David Littleproud, announced the program while visiting the University’s Coffs Harbour campus.

Soil sampling and monitoring by farmers and other land managers could underpin Australia’s carbon management response in agriculture by helping them access testing that meets ERF participation requirements.

Soil testing, particularly establishing soil carbon benchmarks, can be expensive but this program will help farmers be part of the solution to climate change.

Land managers will also be able to purchase, at their own cost, additional sampling and testing to meet their specific farm needs at the same time.

Aggregated data collected by farmers and land managers will also be shared to the Australian National Soil Information System to inform government decision-making regarding priorities for Australia’s future soil monitoring and management.

Interested land managers can get in contact with Southern Cross University via www.scu.edu.au/pilot-soils-program

Read more about the Pilot Soil Monitoring and Incentives Program.

Photo: Graham Lancaster (R) Director of the University’s Environmental Analysis Laboratory shows a soil sample to Minister David Littleproud (2nd from R) and Federal Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan.

Source: SCU