Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Soil ecosystem services are vital

Soil ecosystem services are vital

By Bala Tikkisetty

The transformation of natural capital, namely soil, plants and animals, air and water into resources that people value and use is generally called ecosystem services. It is a concept that is gaining more attention as we see environmental pressure increasingly applied to resources, such as soil health, that we once took for granted.

Soil provides ecosystem services critical to all of us. In addition to providing habitat for billions of organisms, soil acts as a water filter and growing medium. It contributes to biodiversity, solid waste treatment, acts as a filter for wastewater and so on. Soil is the basis for our country’s agro-eco systems that provide us with fibre and food and supports our agriculture industry.

The Waikato Regional Council soil quality monitoring programme measures soil properties such as soil compaction, nutrient status, biological activity and soil carbon at 145 sites, with about 30 sites each year sampled in the region. The sites cover a range of soils and land uses regionally.

The main soil quality issues identified are compaction, excessive phosphorous and nitrogen on dairy and cropping land, and declining carbon on cropping land use. I am happy to say that some of the emerging data trends suggest a positive change in soil quality, most likely attributed to improved land management practices undertaken by our farming community. That’s great news.

But some areas still need improvement. The following are a few of the issues on which we can potentially focus for developing good management.

Minimising human induced erosion and maintaining good soil quality are essential for maintaining soil ecosystem services such as nutrient and water buffering, productive capacity, assimilating waste and minimising impacts of sediment and other contaminants on water bodies.

Other good practices include optimum cultivation, avoiding over grazing and heavy grazing under wet weather leading to compaction, avoiding under or over-fertilisation, practicing appropriate use of pesticides and other agrochemicals, managing pasture to maintain complete soil cover and careful application of farm dairy effluent to avoid saturation and optimise organic matter.

There is every benefit in protecting the sensitive areas on farms. Wetlands deliver a wide range of ecosystem services such as improving water quality, flood regulation, coastal protection, and providing recreational opportunities and fish habitat.

A good way of describing soil quality is to relate the properties of the soil to the use we want to make of it. A good quality soil is one which will serve the purpose we have for it with minimum modification.

Waikato Regional Council continues to work with the farming community, farming industry and other stakeholders to increase the understanding of the above issues and provide advice on sustainable agriculture practices to decrease the impact of resource use.

Soil is one of the most valuable assets that a farmer has. It is our responsibility to make use of soils without damaging either the soil or any other part of our environment, protecting them for our own use and use by future generations.

Bala Tikkisetty is a sustainable agriculture co-ordinator at Waikato Regional Council.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Scoop Business: Fonterra Slashes 2015 Milk Payout, Earnings Tumble 76%

Fonterra Cooperative Group cut its forecast 2015 milk price payout by about 12 percent, citing weaker global dairy prices and said there is a risk of further declines given strong global milk production. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: RBNZ Keeps OCR At 3.5%, Signals Slower Pace Of Future Hikes

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler kept the official cash rate at 3.5 percent and signalled he won’t be as aggressive with future rate hikes as previously thought as inflation remains tamer than expected. The kiwi dollar fell to a seven-month low. More>>

ALSO:

Weather: Dry Spells Take Hold In South Island

Many areas in the South Island are tracking towards record dry spells as relatively warm, dry weather that began in mid-August continues... for some South Island places, the current period of fine weather is quite rare. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Productivity Commission To Look At Housing Land Supply

The Productivity Commission is to expand on its housing affordability report with an investigation into improving land supply and development capacity, particularly in areas with strong population growth. More>>

ALSO:

Forestry: Man Charged After 2013 Death

Levin Police have arrested and charged a man with manslaughter in relation to the death of Lincoln Kidd who was killed during a tree felling operation on 19 December 2013. More>>

ALSO:

Smells Like Justice: Dairy Company Fined Over Odour

Dairy company fined over odour Dairy supply company Open Country Dairy Limited has been convicted and fined more than $35,000 for discharging objectionable odour from its Waharoa factory at the time of last year’s ”spring flush” when milk supply was high. More>>

Scoop Business: Dairy Product Prices Decline To Lowest Since July 2012

Dairy product prices dropped to the lowest level since July 2012 in the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction, led by a slump in rennet casein and butter milk powder. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Computer Power Plus

Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand

Mosh Social Media
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news