Soil health is a term we use to describe soil that is in good condition. It describes the state of a soil system and includes the physical, chemical and biological aspects of soil that need to be in balance in order to sustain thriving farm businesses and plant and animal growth.


Healthy soil is an essential asset for farm businesses and helps them be more resilient, efficient and profitable. It also has other benefits in terms of improved water quality, carbon sequestration and healthy landscapes.

About two thirds of agricultural land in Australia is suffering from acidification, depletion of nutrients and organic matter, or salinisation. Given the Wet Tropics produces 90% of Australia’s bananas and 30% of its sugarcane, as well as a variety of tropical fruits, agricultural resilience is a major priority for our region.


Terrain NRM is supporting farmers across the Wet Tropics to shift to sustainable farming systems that build organic matter, increase biodiversity, improve water cycling and capture carbon.

This benefits our farming industries as well as building resilience to droughts and floods, and reducing the pressure on our ecosystems, particularly the Great Barrier Reef.

Some of the activities we undertake include:

  • Bring national and international experts to the region
  • Provide extension support for soil health and regenerative farming improvements
  • Training in soil testing and water sampling
  • Help with grant applications

Current sustainable agriculture projects:


1. Digging Deeper Plus training program

If you are interested in learning more about managing the soils on your farm, Terrain’s Digging Deeper Plus soil management training program is a good start. It is open to farmers in the Wet Tropics, Northern Gulf and Cape York NRM regions. This hands-on program designed to help you understand more about what’s going on below the surface of your soil, how it affects your crops and pastures and what to do about soil constraints to improve your soils.

2. Tropical Soils: A Guide to Soil Health

tropical soils guide bookThis comprehensive guidebook for farmers or graziers in the tropical north of Australia, has been developed by Terrain and our partners as a free resource.

3. Soil Health video series

Terrain has also developed a series of introductory video tutorials that are available to view on our YouTube channel. These five-minute videos cover everything from soil organic matter and why ground cover is so important to soil acidity, how healthy your topsoil is and the best mulches for tropical orchards. There is also a three-part series tailored to graziers.

Use this link to visit the soil health section on our Youtube channel.

Hands holding compost

Radish cover crop

Farmer walking besides cane paddock

Farmers in a soil pit

Dick Richardson from Grazing Naturally