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Using Tech to Support a Healthy Future for Australian Soils

Image Credits: CSIRO, Press Release

Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, recently revealed details of an AU$15 million project to develop a national soil information system, aimed at improving the sustainable management of one of the nation’s most precious assets.

Supporting the National Soil Strategy, and funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the Australian National Soil Information System (ANSIS) project is a collaboration between the government, research organisations, industry, the private sector and the community.

Using innovative processes and technologies, ANSIS will allow improved sharing of nationally consistent soil data and information through online access for users. This will help Australians to better understand their nation’s diverse range of soils and make better decisions about managing our important soil resources. Currently, soil data is collected using different methods, by different organisations, and at a range of depths in the soil. This makes it hard to access, compare and use data from diverse sources.

The Project Lead at CSIRO stated that improving access to the best soil data and information can help promote digital agriculture innovation and is key to sustainably managing Australia’s soils. By using ANSIS, farmers and agricultural advisors will have access to more soil data and be better placed to more sustainably manage the soil on which they rely.

Soil is vital to agricultural production and natural environments, as well as health and well-being. This information system will help everyone care for this important natural resource. Productive, healthy, and resilient soil means more economic, environmental, and social benefits to Australia. Monitoring soil also helps scientific understanding of how the natural world is changing.

This work will provide insight into biodiversity, water resources, landscapes and coastlines, fauna, climate, and geology. By harmonising Australia’s soil data, we can make it accessible across many fields of science and exploration. The project is being delivered under the Federal Government’s National Soil Strategy, which is about prioritising soil health, empowering soil innovation and stewards, and strengthening soil knowledge and capability. The new ANSIS system will be available for use in 2023.

ANSIS Overview

ANSIS will provide improved access to nationally consistent soil data and information needed to help sustainably manage Australian soil.  ANSIS will provide:

  • More soil data
    • More data sets are available that in other soil systems
    • Enables more certainty in products developed
    • Opportunity to develop new products
  • Improved access
    • Multiple data sets are now discoverable and accessible
  • National coverage
    • Most up-to-date data available
  • Efficient provision
    • Organised and standardised data for immediate use
    • Can feed into many users’ requirements
  • Consistent delivery
    • Substantial reduction in time to prepare information products
  • Trusted location
    • Certainty that data is from an authoritative source, verified and satisfies standards.
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