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SOIL QUALITYsoil quality image

no significant change    NO SIGNIFICANT CHANGE


The percentage of monitoring sites in the Waikato region with high soil quality fell between 2008 and 2013 but subsequently improved.

This indicator is the estimated percentage of soil quality monitoring sites in the Waikato region meeting five or more of the seven soil quality targets.

Why is this indicator important?

Measuring soil quality for four main land use types in the Waikato region helps councils assess whether they are suited to the activities they support. These activities include dairy farming, drystock farming (sheep, beef, deer etc.), horticulture and cropping, and plantation forestry. Good quality soils are those whose key characteristics are in good condition for their current land use. Soils with good soil quality are able to carry out vital but sometimes conflicting soil functions. Some of the most important functions are food and other biomass production or a platform for man-made structures, biological habitat and gene pool or a source of raw materials, and several regulating services, such as water storage and supply, nutrient storage and supply, filtering contaminants and storage of carbon as soil organic matter to mitigate climate change.

Monitoring these sites helps councils to identify and manage issues so they can protect or improve soil quality in these areas through their policies and plans, regulation and education. This includes working directly with people involved in activities or industries that can have a significant impact on the land, to ensure our region’s soils remain viable now and in the future.

Soil quality

Soil quality 2019

Note: percentages are corrected for productive land area. 

Year  Per cent of monitoring sites meatting five or more soil quality targets
2003 85
2004 84
2005 84
2006 84
2007 86
2008 86
2009 80
2010 84
2011 82
2012 82
2013 79
2014 79
2015 79
2016 84
2017 86
2018 82

What is this indicator telling us? 

  • Between 2003 and 2016, the percentage of soil quality monitoring sites in the Waikato region which met five or more soil quality targets decreased from 85% to 79%, improved to 86% in 2017, but has now decreased to 82%.

Check out related information on our website and other organisations’ websites listed on our Waikato Progress Indicators’ Useful Links page.


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Waikato Regional Council monitors soil quality sites throughout the region against seven targets agreed by the National Land Monitoring Forum: total carbon (organic matter), total nitrogen (N), mineralised N, soil pH (acidity/alkalinity), phosphorous (P), soil density and macroporosity (a measure of the ability for air and water to penetrate the soil).

Data for this indicator were provided by Waikato Regional Council, consistent with Taylor, M., Cox, N., Littler, R. and Drewry, J. (2017) 'Trends in soil quality monitoring data in the Waikato region 1995-2015', Waikato Regional Council Technical Report 2017/26. Waikato Regional Council, Hamilton.

Comparisons with New Zealand and other regions are expected to be available in future via the Waikato Regional Council Soil Scientist.

Update details: Annual data to 2018 was sourced in April 2019. Data for 2019 are expected to be available in April 2020.

Customised data request requirements: Contact is Waikato Regional Council for the estimated percentage of total productive land in the Waikato region meeting five or more soil quality targets and related secondary indicators.


Territorial Authority (TA) disaggregation: No

Other regions: No

New Zealand: No

Other countries/ Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD):  No