FORMER Governor-General Michael Jeffery is to become Australia's first official Advocate for Soils to preserve the productivity of Australia's farms and reverse soil degradation. Developing a national soil health strategy is now a top priority for the current Federal government."Farmers and landowners are the key carers of our soils and country; they should be recognised not just for their food production but as stewards of our landscape and if they make improvements to their soil, that is something we as citizens should jointly financially support."
Under the new policy, farmers may become eligible for government payments if they act to improve and protect their productive soils, prevent erosion, salinity and the loss of valuable topsoil, as now occurs in Europe.
More than 60 per cent of Australia's old and fragile soils are classed as severely degraded with low productivity, at the same time as farmers are being asked to nearly double food and fibre production by 2050.
Since retiring as Governor-General four years ago, Sir Michael has established a new not-for-profit organisation Soils for Life, aimed at encouraging farmers to adopt a holistic, chemical-free approach to managing their precious soils.
Acknowledgement: This is an extract from the National Landcare Facilitator's newsletter, October 2012