Ground truth: CSIRO launches national data and information tool for soil

29 June 2023

Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, has launched a new tool that will help Australia sustainably manage a critical natural resource that sustains lives and livelihoods.

Now live and available for use, the Australian National Soil Information System (ANSIS) brings together soil data from across Australia, connecting multiple data sources to provide access to nationally consistent soil data and information. It will equip farmers, policymakers, and researchers with the data and information they need to better manage, restore, and protect Australia’s soils.

RIGHT: More productive, healthy, and resilient soil can provide multiple benefits for farmers.

Speaking at the Soil Science Australian conference in Darwin, ANSIS project lead at CSIRO, Peter Wilson, said it was an important step forward for the future sustainable management of soils in every part of the country. “Soil is the backbone of our food security, and it is critical that we manage it effectively for climate change adaptation and economic and environmental prosperity to support national and global agrifood priorities,” Mr. Wilson said. “Until now, it’s been exceptionally difficult to find, access, integrate and compare soil data. “This new system brings together all this information providing easy access to soil data and information that will underpin the effective management of soil.”

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ANSIS will be a valuable tool for farmers and farm advisors, allowing them to compare the condition of their soil with other soils in their region; monitor how their soil has changed over time; and inform opportunities for change or improvement in land management practices. Governments and industry bodies will be able to use data and information through ANSIS to support the development of effective policies to ensure our soil is sustainably used and enhanced for future generations, and to inform policy decisions in areas such as drought resilience, climate adaptation, natural capital accounting, and biodiversity conservation. Australia’s National Soils Advocate, the Hon Penelope Wensley AC, said the launch of the new national soil information system was an exciting development. “It represents a major advance in the implementation of the National Soil Strategy.

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“Good data, available in a consistent, accessible form, is essential for better understanding and management of Australia’s soil. “I know the development of the system has been a challenging task and extend my compliments and thanks to CSIRO and everyone involved in delivering this important new tool for soil stakeholders and policymakers,” she said. Mr. Wilson said ANSIS would enable researchers to better understand the way our soil works, its role in climate change adaptation and mitigation, and the impacts we have on this valuable natural resource. ANSIS is supported by funding through the Australian Government National Soil Strategy (Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) in collaboration with CSIRO and partner organisations.

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