The Australian Greens have announced a new initiative to protect Australia's agricultural productivity from soil degradation.
"How we treat our soil has major implications for our future food production and the viability of our agricultural land," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens agriculture spokesperson said today.
"The Greens care about the future of Australian agriculture, which is why we are announcing strong policies that help farmers, protect our farm land and provide a secure, affordable food supply into the future.
"Topsoil is critical to our productivity, but like our fossil fuels, we're using and losing topsoil faster than it can be replaced. This loss is due to a range of factors, but the most significant causes are intensive fertiliser use and erosion caused by land clearing.
"The Greens know how important it is to invest in new agricultural practices and research and development in order to reverse this topsoil loss.
"To achieve this, we will invest $75 million over the forward estimates to fund the national soil health strategy, delivering on a key recommendation from the 2012 Centre for Policy Development (CPD) report Farming Smarter, Not Harder.
"This investment will drive innovation in farming techniques to give Australian farmers a lasting competitive advantage. It will reduce fertiliser costs and reverse the decline in productivity that results from poor soil quality.
"By investing in the delivery of regenerative agricultural practices, we can deliver strong financial returns for farmers as well as providing environmental benefits. The CPD found that acting now to improve soil condition could increase wheat production by up to $2.1 billion per year.
"We will also support consistent, ongoing research and monitoring over the long term, so informed decisions can be made to support the agricultural sector.
"The Greens are continuing a strong commitment to helping farmers remain strong and addressing the long-term needs of sustainable farming communities," Senator Siewert concluded.