To attain the The Sponge achievement, farmers soil must soak in 1 inch of water in under 5 minutes during our yearly water infiltration test.
Water infiltration rate is the time it takes for water to be absorbed by the soil. In Australia, where rain events can be short in time, but heavy in volume, we need to make sure that our soil can capture that water as quickly as possible.
When a farm’s soil is unable to absorb the rain, we can get chemical run off from newly applied fertilisers and pesticides into our waterways, increased erosion and more severe flooding when large rainfalls do occur. The excess nitrogen and phosphorus from newly applied fertilisers can cause toxic algae to build up in our waterways harming fish and other aquatic life. The erosion can also cause sediment to end up in fish’s gills and reduce light penetration into the water.
AgWe farmers aim to increase their water infiltration rate to help reduce the severity of droughts by quickly storing the rainwater in their soils, reducing loss of water from evaporation and environmental damage. Supporting farmers who achieve The Sponge helps promote the movement towards healthier soil in Australia.