The Week in Soil

James Dyson has been shouting about the benefits of environmentally-sustainable methods used in his farming projects.  "Our move into profit is a result of the investments that we have been making in our soil health" he told the Financial Times this week.

Policymakers cannot afford to ignore soil sustainability anymore, argues a new report by the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC: national science academy representative of the 28 EU countries, Norway and Switzerland). The report suggests soils have fallen down the EU policy agenda, with EASAC Environment Director saying “Soils are being destroyed and lost permanently at a rapid rate through housing, infrastructure and mining,” whilst the lead researcher stated “We should not take soils for granted: they are non-renewable, at least in our lifetime.” This piece has more detail, and you can read the report here

Meanwhile some parts of Europe are paying soil the attention it deserves – as demonstrated by this week’s RECARE final policy conference which saw a host of quality speakers and delegates turn out to discuss strategy and policy implications of research in to soil health. Catch up with #RECARE2018 and keep your eye on Europe’s soil research hub where all conference presentations will eventually be uploaded.

This piece in Horizon, the EU Research & Innovation magazine, considers the use of biochar to turn farmland in to carbon sinks whilst also improving its health and nutritional content – and recommends a substance created from crop waste and discarded paper

And Finland are taking the role of soil in climate change mitigation very seriously, with implications for Northenr Europe and the planet. With organic peatland soils making up 35% of the country’s land area, this fascinating article considers the impact of land-use on carbon storage, alongside microbial diversity and biomass issues.

Big soil news in Brazil this week: a new research project diagnosed and mapped soil samples in Sao Paulo to produce the country’s first soil fertility survey. The results demonstrate the opportunity to improve crop yields via the proper application of much-needed nutrients to fields.

In an in-depth report, research leads the International Plant Nutrition Institute advised “More than ever agriculture needs to follow principles of sustainability that ensure build up and maintenance of long-term soil productivity.”

And elsewhere in Brazil, a study of problematic mechanised coffee-bean harvesting reveals the best way to manage the process in terms of protecting the soil.

 In exciting sustainability developments, new research from the University of South Australia has suggested that nanoparticles derived from green mango peel could be the key to remediating oil sludge in contaminated soil – currently a huge threat to ecosystems and the environment, particularly with this news that climate change could lead to the exposure of new, dangerously toxic soil contaminants.

And finally, for those that want to have a go themselves, the Irish News presents 8 ways to enrich your soil on the cheap for winter.