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Soil health research in the context of regenerative agriculture

May 2021

Soil is increasingly considered a ‘common good’, like water and air. In Aotearoa New Zealand, we also need to consider principles integral to understanding soil health from a Māori perspective, considering that Māori have had a long connection to and understanding of soil. These include: mauri, mana, mahinga kai and māra kai, and oranga ora.

This report proposes a core list of soil health indicators applicable to New Zealand soils, including measures suitable for on-farm monitoring, as well as for research purposes, and includes indicators commonly used by regenerative agriculture practitioners. The indicators listed go beyond standard soil fertility tests commonly used on-farm, and include organic matter properties, soil physical condition, and biological properties.

‚ÄúSoils are living systems and are inherently complex. This, combined with the diversity of soils and the complexity of farm systems, does not make addressing these knowledge gaps easy’ ‚Äî Dr Nicole Schon, AgResearch

Although there are many studies on soil health, there is a paucity of studies evaluating the effect of RA on soil health at the paddock scale and at a farm-system level. This report examines the rationale underpinning the proposed impacts of RA and highlights key knowledge gaps.

Contract Report: LC3954-13

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