Soils are the lifeblood of the catchment, providing environmental services that give life to flora, fauna and primary production.
Land degradation leading to loss of ecosystem services from soils and associated decreases in the function and productive capacity of soils is a pressing ecological and economic concern. Whilst production has increased and landholders have shown the capacity to adapt to changing climatic and economic conditions, the evidence is that the long term capacity of soils to provide services is under threat.
Healthy, functioning soils are essential for landscape health and provide primary services as shown in table 1. Importantly, these services underpin sustainable landuse and fundamental ecological processes in the catchment for rural communities. As the soil ecosystem functions degrade so do the services they provide and at the same time, the disservices increase.
By application of external energy we have managed to often maintain or increase economic productivity from our soils. However, this has been at the expense of inherent productivity and we are masking a decline in the health of our soils. Examples of some disservices that have increased as a result of a decline in ecosystem services of soils are soil erosion, soil acidification, soil salinisation and soil organic matter decline.
The consequence of this is that it threatens our capacity to continue to provide the very necessary services that our rural communities and environment rely on.
The Goulburn Broken CMA has a strong commitment to building community capacity and understanding of soil health through its partner agencies, Landcare groups, production groups and general community.
This effort is guided by the Goulburn Broken Catchment Land Health Strategy - 2017 to 2020, which can be downloaded here:
From the Ground Up will work with farmers, industry and community groups to improve farm soil health, native vegetation and biodiversity to boost the region’s agricultural productivity and profitability and the natural resource base on which it depends.
The following case studies focus on how agricultural properties in the Goulburn Broken Catchment are adapting to climate change.
Soil activities have been run within the catchment with funding from various government agencies. This section keeps a record of the work completed as part of those projects.