South Australia's Strategic Plan is comprised of 100 targets. These targets are specific and measurable and enable us to measure our progress towards achieving the Plan's visions and goals.
Each target is reported on through this section of the website. Data has been updated as at December 2017.
Target:70. Sustainable land management:
By 2020, achieve a 25% increase in the protection of agricultural cropping land from soil erosion and a 25% improvement in the condition of pastoral land
Protection of agricultural land from soil erosion
The target is to achieve a 25 per cent improvement in the protection of agricultural cropping land by 2020. This equates to each hectare of agricultural cropping land being protected from erosion for an average of 340 days. The baseline, in 2002–03, was 272 days.
The target of 340 days was initially achieved in 2014-15. There was a slight decline in 2015-16 due to variable seasonal conditions, but the target was again achieved in 2016-17.
Soil protection is expected to be maintained at the current level over the next few years. However, it may decline if there are several seasons of below average rainfall across South Australia’s cropping areas, or other major events occur that reduce soil cover such as bushfires.
The measure for this target is expressed as the average number of days of adequate protection of agricultural cropping land from soil erosion for each hectare of cropland across the state. The total area of agricultural cropping land in South Australia is approximately 8.14 million hectares. Of this, approximately 5.2 million hectares (64%) are susceptible to wind erosion and 2.4 million hectares (30%) are susceptible to water erosion.
Improvements in the protection of cropping land from erosion have been achieved through the adoption of improved farming practices, including no-tillage farming methods, stubble retention and controlled grazing.
For example, telephone surveys show that the proportion of cropping area in SA sown using no-tillage farming methods increased to 83 per cent in 2016 compared to 16 per cent in 1999.
This improvement demonstrates the strong desire by farmers and land managers to reduce the risk of erosion and adopt more sustainable farming practices.
The Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources is working in partnership with regional Natural Resources Management Boards, agricultural industry organisations and other State Government agencies to increase the adoption of best practice farming systems.
Improvement in the condition of pastoral land
The target is to achieve a 25 per cent improvement in the condition of pastoral land by 2020. This equates to a net improvement in 54 of the State’s 217 pastoral properties. The baseline, in 2005-06, was set at zero.
In 2015-16, there was a net improvement of two per cent in paddock ratings of the pastoral leases. The total improvement in the condition of pastoral land since the baseline year, is now 23 per cent.
The measure used for the improvement in the condition of pastoral land is based on the change in Priority paddock ratings which are assigned during the pastoral lease assessment and inspection program. The land comprised of each pastoral lease is required to be assessed in a period not exceeding 14 years. More frequent inspections are conducted approximately every 5–7 years.
The Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources undertakes the monitoring and prepares written reports on the condition of the leases for consideration by the Pastoral Board. Combined, the assessment and inspection programs collect information on a range of land condition and management factors including; the density of both palatable and non-palatable perennial plant species; soil condition and stability; long-term photo points; pest plants and animals (such as rabbits and goats); native grazing animals; impacts of historical land degradation; stock density; number of stock per water point; infrastructure improvements (such as fencing and new water points); and annual rainfall.
The SA Arid Lands NRM Board, in collaboration with the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, has been supporting several programs with pastoralists to encourage best practice pastoral land management. The programs enable pastoralists to understand and manage their properties, often covering several thousand square kilometres, from a landscape perspective.
Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources