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Soil Quality in New Zealand: Policy and the Science Response

Soil Quality in New Zealand: Policy and the Science Response,L. R. Lilburne,A. E. Hewitt,G. P. Sparling,N. Selvarajah

Soil Quality in New Zealand: Policy and the Science Response   (Citations: 6)
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farmers to be more efficient, including a lack of farm subsidies, a small domestic market, and the large dis- Soil depletion and degradation have been increasingly recognized tance from overseas markets, have all encouraged ag- as important environmental issues in many parts of the world. Over the last decade a number of political and legislative measures have ricultural intensification, which has increased the risk been introduced to encourage and enforce sustainable soil manage- of soil degradation. New Zealand is now facing a variety ment in New Zealand. Application of the new legislation has high- of environmental issues, such as hill country erosion, lighted gaps in our knowledge of soil quality and a lack of scientific soil compaction, organic matter decline, and soil and methods to assess and monitor soil quality. This paper describes the water contamination. legislative measures and outlines the scientific response to the needs of Recognizing the strength of the environmentally dam- regulatory agencies responsible for maintaining environmental quality. aging pressures, the New Zealand government has im- The research recommended a set of indicators to assess soil quality. plemented a number of legislative measures to encour- Each soil quality attribute has an associated "target range" defining age sustainable use of land resources. In this paper, we the acceptable value for the attribute. The paper also discusses the describe the new legislative framework employed in communication of results to end-users, including the development of a computerized assessment tool. The legislative measures and scientific New Zealand to promote and enforce sustainable man- response have fostered a closer relationship between the policy and agement of natural and physical resources, and the pol- science communities, leading to more well-focused research, but greater icy-science relationship that has developed as a result collaboration is still required. of implementing this legislation. We also summarize re- search developments arising from the refocused science.
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