The Week in Soil

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has reiterated that the "lion's share" of farm subsidies after Brexit should go to support environmental work during a presentation to Parliament’s EFRA Committee, while confirming that the Agriculture Bill will be published before the end of July.

Gove has appointed Sir William Worsley, current Chair of the National Forest Company, as the country’s new Tree Champion with the task of driving forward planting rates and preventing the unnecessary felling of street trees.

Defra has announced a £23.5m package to boost farming productivity via the Countryside Productivity Small Grants scheme (CPSG).  Projects which fall under the CPSG scheme include new state of the art equipment such as the Shallow Injections System which can inject slurry directly into the soil surface, thereby reducing ammonia emissions.

The APPG on Agroecology co-hosted a panel in Parliament on ‘Agroforestry: Improving Productivity and Delivering Public Goods’.  It heard from four farmers and foresters who have had practical, hands-on experience with agroforestry, as well as a presentation of the Soil Association’s new briefing on Agroforestry.

Changing soil chemistry has been happening since the Bronze Age, apparently. Ancient bones discovered in Ireland reveal that farming has actually altered nitrogen structure in land for the last 3,000 years.

Russian Scientists researching ways of repairing contaminated soil are using organic waste to immobilize heavy metals, induce the soil to repair itself and create a healthier environment for the organisms living in it. 

Soil is the source of our best antibiotics and should be mined more thoroughly for new drugs and other useful chemicals according to researchers at the University of California.

In India there is growing concern that pollution and destruction of soil could lead to the extinction of the millipede, the veteran of soil ecosystems.