The Week in Soil

New research from the American Society for Agronomy highlights the challenges and opportunities presented by soil differences: farmers may have a choice in how they slow the release of nitrogen to support plant growth, depending on their soil's acidity.

In reassuring news for the UK, Environment Secretary Michael Gove has vowed to safeguard environmental standards post-Brexit, reaffirming they will not slip lower than those of the EU at a recent Environmental Audit Committee meeting.

However, soil has been ‘completely underestimated’ when considering climate change strategies in policy, suggests WWF Programme Director Andrea Kohl. She was speaking at a European Commission session focused on the role of natural resources as part of Europe’s strategy for long-term emissions reduction.

Further UK farming news as Defra proposes new controls to reduce ammonia emissions and improve air quality. The latest from Farmers Weekly has tips on how to reduce emissions before the new regulations come in – one of these being soil testing.

Looking globally now: new studies dispel a commonly held assumption about climate change and forests in Canada and abroad. It's long been thought that climate change is enabling treelines to march uphill and northward, but it turns out climate warming-induced advances may be halted by unsuitable soils.

Great news in America as the Senate Farm Bill is passed containing provisions to incentivise soil health practices that pull more carbon out of the atmosphere: reflecting the science that shows agriculture is ‘the most practical and powerful carbon sequestration opportunity available at a global scale.’

And finally, a story literally out of this world: the European Space Agency has awarded Airbus two studies to design key components of a mission to collect Martian soil and return it to Earth, where scientists plan to spend years studying it. A ‘tantalising but achievable vision’.