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Published: 29 Nov 2022

Dr Bianca Das picks up a handful of soil in a paddock in NW Tasmania

Bianca Das is a Soil Scientist and Lecturer at the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture. On World Soil Day (December 5) we asked her to share some actions that everyone can do to protect our important soils.

“Firstly, I would recommend discovering something new about soil. The easiest way to do this is to grow a plant and try to keep it alive (inside or outside). I do this because practical skills can often teach you more than any book or YouTube video,” Dr Das said.

“I like to think about: How much soil does this plant need to keep it alive? How much water does it like? How does it change throughout the year? What is its native environment (sandy soil, clay soil) and climate (tropical, arid, temperate)?”

If you already have plants and would like to contribute further to your local soil, here are Bianca’s top five tips for protecting soil:

  1. Reduce erosion by slowing water flow and increasing plant ground cover
  2. Limit soil compaction by not driving, walking, or riding on it while its wet
  3. Decrease your food waste by using up leftovers and buying only what you need
  4. Increase biodiversity by planting different species in your garden, helping to support a wide range of insects and animals that are resilient to extreme change
  5. Volunteer at a local Landcare group that plants native trees and restores ecosystems

Why is soil so important to healthy ecosystems and human wellbeing?

Soil is central to many ecosystem cycles which directly affect whether we have healthy nutritious food to eat, clean water to drink, and fresh air to breathe.

For example, soil helps to filter out many waterborne toxins so that we can have clean drinking water. Soil also regulates gases like oxygen and other greenhouse gases which affects our air quality. Soil even contains many of the antibiotic medicines we use to fight infections when we get sick!

Do you have a favourite fact about soil?

The state soil for Tasmania is the Ferrosol. Ferrosols are deep, well-structured soils with a red or red-brown colour. Tasmanian Ferrosols were formed from the weathering of basalt lava by many small volcanoes in northern Tasmania 10-50 million years ago. This soil is also known as red oche and is extremely precious to Indigenous people of Tasmania for art, spiritual wellbeing, ceremonies, and trade.

World Soil Day 2022

World Soil Day (December 5) is an initiative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. It aims to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems and human wellbeing by addressing the growing challenges in soil management, increasing soil awareness and encouraging societies to improve soil health.