The Week in Soil

The NFU Our Farmed Environment conference took place in Westminster this week and included an afternoon panel of ‘food and soil makers’. Read the Allerton Project’s debrief of the event here.

Their report ‘United by our environment, our food, our future’ highlights the importance of soil and calls for government to provide better access to more data on soil quality for farmers to support a healthy natural environment.

And here’s a summary of last month’s Rewilding conference, highlighting the intriguing turning point the initiative appears to be at in the UK.

A tipping point has been identified in soils’ ability to retain moisture after fire: following fires that devastated 150,000 acres in New Mexico, researchers are studying interactions between fire and water on the land. Wildfires cause flashy runoff followed by increased wetness of soil – the study aims to increase understanding of how these two competing process change the site’s overall water balance.

Researchers in China have found regenerative agricultural practices of straw mulching and conservation tillage produce the highest yields of the northwest Laoess Plateau’s important potato crop, as they support the soil to overcome the drought the region is prone to.

The Food Research Collaboration have released this report on UK pesticide control post-Brexit. They recommend the government should work to ensure maintenance of standards following departure from the EU, as well as establishing a dedicated governing body, introducing a pesticide tax and setting clear quantitative reduction targets.

More on last week’s World Soil Day:

The President of Lagos urged the nation to act to prevent soil pollution: to protect the soil, the commissioner urged residents to halt indiscriminate disposal of used oil, uncontrolled use of agrochemicals and improper disposal of urban and industrial wastes.

WWF’s Tony Juniper discussed why soil is important and how it’s under pressure, as well as what can be done to combat the problem worldwide – including changing diets, cutting food waste and supporting farmers through policy.

And the Raiforest Alliance released this easily accessible introduction to soil piece with ‘7 facts everyone should know’ – with the conclusion that ‘YOU have the power to protect the soil’, links to their training videos and other resources.