The Week in Soil

The Country Land and Business Associates (CLA) has published The Land Management Contract – its vision for the payment for delivery of public benefits.  It looks to integrate sustainable farming practices and woodland management alongside environmental and heritage land use management.

How can the new Farming Act lead to increased fruit and vegetable production, reduced sugar production, safer jobs in farming and whole-farm approaches to integrated health and sustainability?  That will be the topic of a Half-day seminar organised by Sustain and the Royal Society for Public Health on Wednesday 11th July.

Lots of ideas for soil improvement in the press this week, starting with how beef cattle are improving the outputs of a Nottinghamshire farm whose soil structure has been damaged by irrigation and root cropping – improving carrot yield by up to 2.5t/ha.

Meanwhile an Essex Arable farmer explains how ‘letting his soil biology work for itself’ –using cover crops, making his own compost and trialling different machinery has improved his soil health and fertility, while maintaining yields.

And in Scotland, the 'Soil, Slugs and Metal' event (June 7), run by Soil Association Scotland will explore how farm machinery – and specifically careful use of tyre pressure, the choice of equipment and awareness of when to cultivate can improve soil outcomes – according to a man that designed it.

In the US, global food giant General Mills has continued its $3 million investment into soil health over the last couple of years by providing financial support to University of Minnesota’s Forever Green Initiative that grows crops, promoting soil development.

And coming to a cinema near you soon is “Grassroots: a documentary”, a 20-minute film about farmers, the soils they work and a piece of powerful knowledge that nearly slipped through their fingers.  It just won best documentary at the Scinema International Science Film Festival and is booked in for international film festivals. 

Congratulations to Rebecca Pow Taunton Deane MP and Champion of the Sustainable Soils Alliance who has been named ‘ Greenest New MP’ at the Climate Coalition’s first ever Green Heart Hero Awards – partly in recognition of her work holding the first ever debate on soil in Parliament.