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 is analysed and uploaded as it becomes available.
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
In 2002–03 (the baseline year), each hectare of agricultural cropping land was protected from erosion for an average of 272 days. By 2014–15, this had increased to an average of 340 days which reaches the target of a 25% improvement. This is the highest level of soil protection recorded since monitoring began in 2000.
The target is to achieve an average of 340 days of protection from soil erosion by 2020. While 340 days has been reached in 2014-15, this may not be maintained if there are several seasons of below average rainfall across South Australia, or other major events 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 67 per cent in 2013 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
In 2014–15, the total improvement in the condition of pastoral land was 21% compared to 2005-2006 (the baseline year).
The target is to achieve a 25% improvement in the condition of pastoral land by 2020. This would equate to a net improvement in 54 of the State’s 217 pastoral properties. In the year 2014-15, there was no net improvement in paddock condition since their last lease assessment, hence the total improvement remains steady at 21%.
There are 217 pastoral leases in South Australia. The measure used for this target is based on assessments of paddock condition that are regularly conducted of pastoral leases. Monitoring of the pastoral leases involves comprehensive assessment processes (conducted approximately once every 14 years) and less intensive, but more frequent inspections (conducted about once 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 kilometers, from a landscape perspective.
Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources