MORE than $54 million has been set aside for farmers to access low-cost soil testing in exchange for sharing their data with the federal government, as it builds a national soil database.
Farmers and land managers can apply for soil testing grants of up to $10,000, along with assistance from Commonwealth-funded soil extension officers to interpret their test results.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the two-year program would help Australian farmers improve their agricultural productivity and participate in soil carbon projects under the Emissions Reduction Fund.
"Soil health is critical to farm performance, so sampling supported under the program will show up in the farmers bottom line," Mr Littleproud said
"Soil testing to participate in carbon reduction programs can be expensive but this program will help farmers be part of the solution to climate change."
The cost of testing soil has long been a barrier to farmers wishing to enhance their soil or take part in carbon projects.
All soil data will be aggregated to ensure privacy and shared to the Australian National Soil Information System to inform government decision-making regarding priorities for future soil monitoring and management.
Southern Cross University will administer the program, including arranging soil sampling and testing for land managers who have successfully applied for assistance.
"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," SCU vice president Ben Roche said.
"We are excited to work with farmers and scientific labs to offer a comprehensive suite of soil sampling and testing, as well as putting land managers in touch with soil extension officers.
"Interested land managers can get in contact with SCU to apply."
To register or to find out more contact Southern Cross University at scu.edu.au/pilot-soils-program/.
Start the day with all the big news in agriculture! Sign up below to receive our daily Farmonline newsletter.