This project helps farmers to improve soil health and farm sustainability by addressing issues ranging from soil acidification to declining carbon. Our innovative agricultural extension program builds technical knowledge in soil management.


The agricultural industry generates over $1 billion a year for our rural communities. The Wet Tropics is known for its sugar cane, banana and grazing land but crops also range from tropical fruits and root vegetables to corn, peanuts, coffee, cocoa and tea.

This project is helping our important primary industries adapt to the changing climate and build resilience to extreme droughts and floods.


Terrain NRM’s ‘Digging Deeper Plus’ soil health program is led by our biological agronomist Sally Fields with expert facilitators including agricultural-ecologist David Hardwick and North Queensland regenerative farmer Simon Mattsson. The course includes:

  • Skills training with expert facilitators to learn how to read soil tests, identify root causes of poor soil health and implement solutions
  • Peer-to-peer networking and learning opportunities
  • Free soil tests and individual support to develop soil management plans customised to each participant’s farm.


This five-year project is supported by Terrain NRM through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

national landcare program


  • 64 farming businesses completed the Digging Deeper Plus program since the beginning of this project (more than 120 since Digging Deeper was launched in 2014)
  • More than 100 farmers attended another 6 workshops in 2020-21
  • Interest in soil health has grown substantially in this region
  • The first participants (in 2015) formed the Wet Tropics Soilcare Group – a partner in the current program. Its membership is steadily growing.
  • A Lower Wet Tropics Soilcare Group formed in 2021 and will work with the Wet Tropics Soilcare Group.
  • FREE Tropical Soils Handbook published
  • Soil health videos produced. Please visit our Terrain NRM Youtube channel.

Soil Conference 2023

A soil conference was held in June 2023.

Digging Deeper Plus sessions

There will be no more rounds of our Digging Deeper Plus program under this project, following a series of successful programs over a number of years.


Finding the ‘sweet spot’ for fertiliser

Finding the ‘sweet spot’ for fertiliser

Soil Template 1
Forty-one growers have made changes across 10,000 hectares. Hear from Paul Marbelli.
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Soil to Food Conference

Soil to Food Conference

Soil Template 1
Coming soon in Atherton on 3-4 June 2023. This event is a forum for farmers and the ag industry.
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Trials test ‘sweet spot’ for fertiliser

Trials test ‘sweet spot’ for fertiliser

Soil Template 1
Forty-one growers have made changes across 10,000 hectares. Hear from Mario Quagliata.
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