Soils

Soil moisture rose back to normal levels, however soil protective cover remained poor in many regions.

National average top 6m moisture availability increased by 31 mm to reach values close to 2018. Values were 9% more than the previous year and 3% below the 2000–2019 average.

Rank of soil exposure by Natural Resources Management region.
Rank of soil exposure by Natural Resources Management region.

Soil moisture increased or remained stable in most regions, with the strongest increases along the NSW coast, the NT and the Kimberley region. Soil moisture fell to more typical levels along the North Queensland coast and declined to below average in some arid inland regions.

National average soil moisture content.
National average soil moisture content.

Soils across southeast Australia were extremely dry at the start of the year but rose to normal levels after rains in February and March. Moisture levels were sustained by regular rainfall during the remainder of 2020.

Northern Australia saw good rains in the later part of the 2019/20 monsoon from January to March and again at the early 2020/21 monsoon in December. 

National average soil protection by vegetation and leaf litter remained poor. Soil exposure was 1% less than the previous year but still 11% greater than the 2000–2019 average.

Extremely poor soil protection occurred in inland southwest WA Mallee, Kangaroo Island and the southeast corner of Australia due to a combination of bushfires and drought.

Soil moisture changes on the Southeast Coast compared to the previous year.

Soil moisture changes on the Southeast Coast compared to the previous year.