Collaborative approaches to soil information

The Department works in collaboration with state and territory government departments and research providers to improve soil information.

National Committee on Soil and Terrain (NCST)

The National Committee on Soil and Terrain (NCST) is a National Coordinating Committee which provides national leadership, coordination, direction and advocacy for matters relating to soil and terrain. The NCST provides a national forum to discuss and exchange views and information, and plays a key role in developing an agreed framework and national standards for soil and terrain assessment, including monitoring. It also encourages capacity building in soil and terrain matters within government agencies, educational institutions and the community.

Committee membership includes representatives from Australian, state and territory government agencies involved in soil and terrain and the CSIRO. The department provides secretariat support to the NCST. The NCST provides strategic oversight to the Australian Collaborative Land Evaluation Program (ACLEP).

Australian Collaborative Land Evaluation Program (ACLEP)

The Australian Collaborative Land Evaluation Program (ACLEP) provides a focus for the collection, collation, management, dissemination and analysis of nationally consistent, integrated data and information on soil and land resources, through the national data base – Australian Soil Resource Information System (ASRIS), and the CSIRO National Soil Archive .

ACLEP promotes improved access to soil and land resource information and supports national assessments of soil related issues. Information is available at a range of scales, in a consistent and easy–to–use format across Australia. ACLEP provides a scientific framework for assessing and monitoring the extent and condition of Australia’s soil and land resources.

ACLEP is funded by the CSIRO and DAFF, with strategic direction from the National Committee on Soil and Terrain. State and territory agencies are also collaborating to provide substantial in–kind resources and technical support.

Over 2010–13, DAFF is providing funding to ACLEP to:

  • improve Australia’s capacity to digitally map soils
  • improve protocols for data collection and storage to ensure that all data collected with Australian Government funds are made available to the national soils database (ASRIS)
  • maintain and improve ASRIS and the CSIRO National Soil Archive
  • report on phosphorus management in the Australian cropping industries.

For a summary of information about ACLEP, see the CSIRO’s promotional flier.

Australian Soil Resource Information System (ASRIS)

The Australian Soil Resource Information System (ASRIS) provides online access to the best available soil and land resource information in a consistent format across the country. It is a key activity of ACLEP.

ASRIS has been developed for a broad range of users, including decision–makers and planners, natural resource managers, researchers, educational institutions and community groups. ASRIS has an emphasis on information standards and data collation to ensure the availability and consistency of a national soils dataset.

ASRIS provides information at different levels of detail. At the higher levels, information includes descriptions of soils and landscapes across Australia. More detailed information is provided where field surveys have been completed. This includes information about important soil attributes such as soil pH, soil carbon, available water storage, salinity and erodibility.

ASRIS includes a soil profile database (NatSoil) which includes fully characterised sites that are known to be representative of significant areas and environments.

For a summary of information about ASRIS, see the CSIRO’s promotional flier.

CSIRO National Soil Archive

The CSIRO National Soil Archive is a facility in Canberra that holds soil specimens and soil data from across Australia. The Archive stores 71,000 soil specimens collected for soil research from around 9,500 sites Australia–wide. These soil specimens are invaluable ‘time capsules’ for assessing temporal changes in soil properties, particularly as new analytical tools become available. Recent use of archived materials includes the acid sulfate soils study at Lake Albert in South Australia where some of the oldest archived samples (78 years) were re–analysed, providing an opportunity to measure changes due to exposure to oxygen while in an air–dry condition.

An extensive soil profile database accompanies the collection of soil specimens.

For a summary of information about the National Soil Archive, see the CSIRO’s promotional flier.