The Week in Soil

Neil Parish MP, Chair of Parliament’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee has described the 44,000+ responses to the Government’s consultation on the Agricultural Command Paper “Health and Harmony: the future for farming and the environment in a Green Brexit” as a disappointingly low number.

Dams built by beavers could have a dramatic impact on reducing the flow of tonnes of soil and nutrients from nearby fields into local rivers, according to a study by scientists at the University of Exeter.

And if that fails, could the answer be dead bodies?  Promession is a burial method which utilises human remains specifically for this purpose and turns them into soil for the earth.

Using a combination of hi-tech scans, field sampling and satellite imagery, a Norfolk farmer is ensuring every inch of ground is surveyed for soil type, nutrient levels, and optimum seed rates – to achieve maximum yields.

Pharmaceuticals companies have signed a $1bn alliance to research the genomes of microbes in soil in the hope of finding new drug therapies.  An estimated three quarters of cancer drugs since the 1980s have seen their origins in natural products, and in particular microorganisms and plants.

How has the Leaning Tower of Pisa stayed standing despite four earthquakes and five degrees lean?  The answer could be its dynamic soil-structure interaction (DSSI) and the Tower now holds the auspicious title of world record holder in DSSI effects.

Researchers from the Swiss research programme: "Sustainable Use of Soil as a Resource" have developed ‘soil index points’ for measuring soil for planning purposes. It provides information on the question of where construction work can have the least impact on soil quality.

What is New Zealand’s biggest export – its soil apparently.  That’s according to Christine Jones, a soils ecologist and founder of "Amazing Carbon".  New Zealand loses 192 million tonnes of soil every year - forty-four per cent of that from its pastures.