The Week in Soil

The RSA Food, Farming & Countryside Commission launched their interim progress report and, to our excitement, headlined with a direct link between soil and public health, proclaiming soil a national health indicator.

Interviewed on R4’s Today programme, Commission Chair Sir Ian Cheshire noted we need tothink about a joined-up system…geared up to help farmers who want to look after and conserve the soil rather than depleting it with the current system of very intensive farming…” and “we need to recognise this is now a crisis point…if you look at soil quality, we’re one of the worst countries in Europe.”

London has been celebrating the contribution of small scale farmers with the Good Food & Good Farming March organised by the Landworker’s Alliance and the Gaia Foundation’s We Feed the World programme of events including exhibitions, talks and workshops led by SSA supporters Sustain, Feedback, Greenhouse PR, Soil Association, Craig Sams and many more.

In Australia, former Governor General Michael Jeffery has produced a report calling for a serious focus on the restoration of soil health including a national soils policy and advocate, a dedicated schools program, funding for regenerative agriculture and an annual soil, water & food report. He says ‘it’s a no-brainer…soil and water security will increasingly underpin global social stability and security’.

A team of international researchers has found that today’s mix of soil bacteria is strongly influenced by the climate of 50 years ago – and that this could be used to predict future biodiversity, linking to the observed phenomenon ‘extinction debt’.

And this piece focuses on efforts in Michigan to map, monitor and understand soil moisture in forested landscapes, vital in terms of the ecosystem services they provide and forest responses to changes in climate.

On the UK’s new Agriculture Bill, SSA member Guy Thompson of EnTrade (Wessex Water) says it’s finally time for agriculture and water services to work together to benefit the environment: EnTrade believes environmental services should be the 3rd discipline of the water industry, but they can’t succeed without collaboration and joined-up thinking.

And a handy round-up of the 2nd parliamentary reading of the Bill from ecologist Miles King provides insight as to some of the more subjective, and downright quirky, contributions to the debate.