The Week in Soil

Defra have announced a new package of financial and technical advice to help farmers reduce their ammonia emissions.  The department is investing £3 million over the next three years to fund a specialist team of experts who will offer support to farmers on the most effective ways to reduce emissions.

The recent fires on Saddleworth Moor will have a long-term health impact on people’s health because of the large amounts of carbon peat stores and the way it burns for long periods of time, emitting large amounts of smoke and tiny particulate matter.

New research into the impact of the recent drought shows how long-term dry weather alters vegetation composition, soil moisture and underlying microbial networks bringing with it a warning that UK soil is not as resilient to climate impacts as previously thought.

Meanwhile increasing precipitation—a symptom of climate change—is making it harder for forest soils to trap greenhouse gases, creating a feedback loop that exacerbates global warming.

Swiss researchers have developed a new method to for listening to acoustic emissions in the soil using piezoelectric sensors.  It enables them to hear when roots grow or earthworms burrow tunnels, and so better understand ecosystem interrelationships.

In the US, farmers have launched  #SoilSmart a high-volume, maximum-impact social media campaign designed to reach new farmer audiences and provide helpful content to spread awareness of soil health.

An original First World War sandbag has been filled with soil from Bovington's Armour Centre so that it can be scattered at the Tank Corps memorial in Belgium on Armistice Day gathered to retrieve 'sacred soil'.The collected soil will be taken to Belgium to mark 100 years since the end of fighting on the Western Front on November 11, 1918.

Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have discovered that mice living in cages with an added earthen floor have an increased resistance towards allergic inflammations. Close contact with micro-organisms in the soil triggers anti-inflammatory genes in the mice and stimulates their gut microbiota.