Soil health

Taranaki soils are generally in excellent condition with very few long-term issues.

The Council works with farmers and other land users to provide the information they need to use land productively without impacting soil health. The Council also monitors soil health in the region.

Monitoring programme

Every five years, the Council conducts State of the Environment monitoring at 20 sites across Taranaki.  We relate the quality of soil samples to the way land is used at each site, identifying if there is any change in soil health, and if so, the direction of that change in relation to previously assessed samples.

Sixteen of our consent monitoring programmes also have a soil health or soil quality monitoring component to ensure the consented activity does not adversely affect soil health.

Regional results

Results from the most recent survey, October to November 2012, showed that 81% of soil samples met target ranges for soil productivity and health.

  • Biological functioning was consistent across the region.
  • Evidence of decreased ecology was found only in soils used for crops.
  • There was no trend of any increase in cadmium levels in the region's soils. Cadmium levels were at least two tiers below levels deemed to be of immediate concern in criteria released by the Cadmium Working Group.

The survey did identify a few regional issues. In soils subject to intensive animal grazing soil compaction was evident. Dairy faming soil samples showed higher than target nitrogen levels and hill country soil samples had low nutrient levels or fertility (meaning low productivity).

Surveys also indicate a longer-term overall trend in reduced macroporosity which can indicate soil compaction, especially in dairying soils where treading stock can compact soil. However, it is important to note that we undertake soil sampling in spring when compaction is at its worst.

What can I do?

Soil health issues are usually short-term and most aspects of poor soil quality can generally be reversed with appropriate management.

The Council is committed to ongoing work with landowners to ensure Taranaki’s land resources remain healthy and productive in the long term.

We offer a range of advice and support on farming practices that can greatly reduce the impact of human activity soil productivity and health.