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: NZ Dollar Falls To 3-Year Low As Investors Favour Greenback

The New Zealand dollar fell to its lowest in more than three years as investors sold euro and bought US dollars, weakening other currencies against the greenback. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: NZ Govt Operating Deficit Smaller Than Expected

The New Zealand’s government’s operating deficit was smaller than expected in the first five months of the financial year as a clampdown on expenditure managed to offset a shortfall in the tax-take from last month’s forecast. More>>

ALSO:

0.8 Percent Annually:
NZ Inflation Falls Below RBNZ's Target

New Zealand's annual pace of inflation slowed to below the Reserve Bank's target band in the final three months of the year, giving governor Graeme Wheeler more room to keep the benchmark interest rate lower for longer.More>>

ALSO:

NASA, NOAA: Find 2014 Warmest Year In Modern Record

Since 1880, Earth’s average surface temperature has warmed by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degrees Celsius), a trend that is largely driven by the increase in carbon dioxide and other human emissions into the planet’s atmosphere. The majority of that warming has occurred in the past three decades. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: New Zealand’s Reserve Bank Named Central Bank Of The Year

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s efforts to stifle house price inflation by using new policy tools has seen the institution named Central Bank of the year by Central Banking Publications, a publisher specialising in global central banking practice. More>>

ALSO:

Science Media Centre: Viral Science And Another 'Big Dry'?

"Potentially, if there is no significant rainfall for the next month or so, we could be heading into one of the worst nation-wide droughts we’ve seen for some time," warns NIWA principal climate scientist Dr Andrew Tait. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news