The Week in Soil

A report on Soil Management for Sustainable Food Production & Environmental Protection has been produced upon completion of a Winston Churchill Travel Fellowship research project. Mark Measures assessed soil analysis techniques, the impact of different farming methods, and the consequences for water quality programmes across Europe and the USA.

An international Plymouth University-led study has shown communities face significant barriers when it comes to implementing soil conservation measures, and that an interdisciplinary approach, both scientific and societal, is key to addressing the devastating effects of soil erosion.

Researchers at Rice University have discovered an effective method to clean oil-soaked soil and restore it to fertility: a significantly positive step, with 98% of oil spills occurring on land and 25,000 spills/year reported to the Environmental Protection Agency. The key to retaining fertility is to preserve the soil’s essential clays.

Earth & Space Science News has published an update on the Soil Moisture Visualiser project which aims to render soil moisture data accessible and useful. Measurements can alert farmers to crop stress, pinpoint saturated areas where rainfall could trigger landslides, and contribute to a host of other applications.

Social scientist Anna Krzywoszynska of the Soil Care Network explores how farmers in England are using social media to establish a community of practice, using scientific ‘experts’ and narratives to inspire, justify, and legitimise sustainable soil management as a valid way of being a ‘good farmer’. Contact @anna_k_speaking for the full paper.

And in further social science news, a paper exploring the relationship between racial politics and soil surveys in the USA, first presented at the Soil Care Network 2017 workshop, has now been published

And finally - the James Hutton Institute’s Best Soil in Show competition is now open for entries from farmers across Scotland. Judges will assess the land’s physical and chemical properties, soil husbandry and the inherent cultivability of the soil type. The winner will be announced at the Royal Highland Show.