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5 December 2022

World Soil Day; The importance of soil and supporting farmers

Soils for Life CEO Eli Court emphasises our focus of working with farmers.

Our CEO Eli Court was on stage at the Parliamentary Friends of Soil #WorldSoilDay breakfast alongside Agriculture Minister Murray Watt, Parliamentary Friends co-chairs Meryl Swanson MP and Michael McCormack MP, and our wonderful co-hosts at the Office of the National Soils AdvocateSoil CRC and Soil Science Australia

Eli emphasised that our focus at Soils for Life is working with farmers, to help them build soil health, for more resilient businesses, landscapes and communities. Read Eli’s full speech below.

Senator the Hon. Murray Watt, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, having a yarn with Soils for Life CEO Eli Court.

Good morning and happy World Soil Day! 

I would like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands where we are meeting today, and honour their elders past and present, and their long history of caring for this country. And I would like to thank the co-chairs Michael McCormack and Merly Swanson, Minister Watt and all the members of the Parliamentary Friends of Soil for your leadership on this issue. And I would like to recognise the farmers in the room, who every day are out there caring for the soils of this country. In particular, I’d like to acknowledge Martin Royds, David Marsh and Bill Daly who have so generously shared their stories and knowledge over the years. 

Last week was the Weekly Times Farmer of the Year Awards 10 year celebration, and I was there talking with Victorian cropper and mixed farmer Grant Sims, one of the award’s early winners way back in 2012. Grant half talked my ear off, and it all came down to soil, and how he has transformed his business by restoring the life and health of his soil.

He talked about how his costs have plummeted, how his business is more resilient, how he’s made it through this season without needing to apply any fungicide, extraordinary in such a wet year. But mostly he talked about the life that’s come back into his soils, and how his job has become feeding that life – the underground livestock – so that it can feed the plants, and so he can keep producing healthy food into the future. We know that the future will bring more frequent and more severe extreme weather, and healthy soils means greater resilience.

Of course, changing practices requires investment – of time, energy and money. Our work at Soils for Life is focused on helping farmers get to the point where they are confident to make those investments. We do this by sharing examples, creating opportunities for peer learning, and building capacity amongst farmers to take their own soil health measurements and observations, so they can trial and adapt their practices over time. Grant’s story is one of many that Soils for Life has heard and shared in our ten years. Our mission is to support more farmers to build soil health, for more resilient businesses, landscapes and communities. We look forward to working with all of you to achieve this.

Thank you

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