The Week in Soil

Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee has called for the government to enshrine biodiversity targets, habitats and soil quality targets in UK law for the first time.  It also called for the establishment of the new independent oversight body — the Environmental Enforcement and Audit Office (EEAO) which carry out functions undertaken by the European Commission and European Court of Justice – including the power to take the government and other public bodies to court where standards are breached.

 

The Prime Minister has set out the government’s plans for a post-Brexit farming policy which works for farmers and food producers, while improving the environment in a roundtable with farmers and agricultural organisations including the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society, Farmers Union Wales, NFU Cymru and the CLA.

 

Who really owns our soil?  German academics have looked to answer this question - and suggest what this means for the both the beneficial ecosystem services that can be derived from them and where the responsibility lies for sustaining functioning and healthy soils.

 

Following on from the Global Symposium on Soil, the UN FAO have produced a 'Global Soil Organic Carbon map’ to help identify international stocks of carbon in soil and measure change on SDG 15.3.1 - indicator on Soil Organic Carbon “Proportion of land that is degraded over total land area”.

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Speaking of which, the European Commission has launched a public consultation asking for advice about the technological and socio-economic pathways that should be explored for a long-term EU GHG emissions reduction strategy – specifically where not covered by existing reporting exercises.

 

Meanwhile Swiss scientists have made a breakthrough in agricultural plastic in soil by showing how microbes are able to break down a biodegradable mulch film. Mulch films are used by farmers to maximise crop yields but are difficult to collect meaning the debris ends up in the soil where it accumulates.

 

A neat introduction to ‘regenerative agriculture’ in Scientific American:  – “The simple changes in conventional farming practices offer opportunities to advance humanity’s most neglected natural infrastructure project—returning health to the soil that grows our food”.

 

An briefing note from the International Plant Nutrition Institute demonstrates how Soil compaction is a can reduce crop yields by restricting crop rooting depth and turn a normally deep productive soil into a less productive shallow soil.