Soil is the foundation for sustainable food production and environmental protection. Created by unsustainable land management practices and a range of social, economic and environmental drivers, soil degradation and pollution have been an ongoing threat to international food security and environmental quality. Soil degradation and pollution assessments are, however, often focused on the soil itself with little scope to devise new soil management approaches that match food production systems and/or environmental protection. This study draws lessons from an Australia-China Joint Research Center Program, Healthy Soils for Sustainable Food Production and Environmental Quality: a research platform that has brought together multi-disciplinary approaches from world-renowned universities and research organizations in Australia and China. To this end, a framework is presented for future soil management in a new way that combines excellence in research, industry and policymakers in a partnership that will ensure not only the right focus of the research but also that high-quality outputs will be transferable to industry and end-users.