Meanwhile in a speech to Prosperity UK, Environment Minister, Michael Gove has reiterated the government’s commitment to pay farmers to improve the quality and fertility of their soil and reverse trends which have led to compaction, run-off and pollution.
Australia has a National Advocate for Soil Health and he has called for sustainable agriculture to be made a national priority. “The integrated management of your soil, your water and your plant assets is what makes a healthy landscape. It’s a very simply concept: if you stuff up one of the three, the other two fail.”
Soil scientist and self-declared “Worm-hugger” Jackie Stroud from Rothamsted Research is seeking 100 volunteer farmers with an hour to spare to survey their fields and record earthworm populations this Spring. Jackie has even has designed a four-page booklet that describes how to do the survey.
Only 18% of soils in Northern Ireland are at optimal fertility levels while 64% of NI grassland area has a soil pH value of less than 6.0 – according to a soil nutritionist helping local dairy farmers to improve their grassland output.
Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have created the world’s first atlas of soil microbes, and have found that a small number of species represent more than half of their populations worldwide.
Also in the States, a farm in Arkansas is using soil sequencing, drones and supercomputers to grow soybeans, corn, and rice – and become the most scientifically advanced farm in the world.
Back in the UK arable farmers fear the cold and wet weather caused by the Beast from the East might push back this year’s spring drilling season leading to lower yields later in the year.
Our event to discuss the role of soil in the government’s 25 Year Plan for the Environment took place on Tuesday in Portcullis House and we would like to thank everyone who attended, a fantastic (and extensive) panel of speakers and especially our host Rebecca Pow MP for making it such a success.