The Week in Soil

Eight new “farming rules for water” to save farmers money and tackle the problem of diffuse pollution and improve water quality came into force on 2 April.  Five of the rules are about managing the use of fertilisers and manures and three are about managing soils.

Here are some thoughts on the new rules – from Ministers, farmers and the Environment Agency.

A sudden network of new rivers in Argentina’s central province of San Luis has been blamed on the country’s soya bean crop – whose short roots absorb less groundwater than the deep-rooted forest it has replaced.

A coalition of campaigners has suggested that the government deploys squadrons of drones to locate and penalise farmers who let soil run off their fields costing  the country more than £1.2bn a year by clogging rivers and contributing to floods.

Composting waste collected from homes and supermarkets is a previously unknown source of microplastic pollution, according to a German study, pointing out that the effects of plastic pollution on land and in freshwater have received little research attention compared with marine plastic pollution.

Meanwhile other German scientists, this time stationed in Antarctica, have successfully grown herbs, lettuce, rocket and radishes in a specially designed sunless, soilless environment -  a shipping container-sized lab in an otherwise barren snowscape.

‘Ecological Agriculture’ is the solution to the three big challenges of climate change, food security, and the connection between agriculture, forestry, economy and employment, according to Stephane Le Foll, vice-president of the “4 per 1000” initiative.

In Tennessee, soil is taken so seriously there is even a competition for judging it!

SSA News

As the deadline for responses to the Agriculture Command Paper approaches, the SSA will be attending a number of events in the coming weeks to debate the strategy and its next steps.  If you’d like to contribute to the Alliance’s own written response, please do get in touch.