The Week in Soil

The Ten Years for Agroecology paper from think-tank IDDRi released this week has shown that Europe could be farmed entirely with soil- and climate-friendly agroecological methods such as organics, and still produce enough food for a growing population.  

There could be bad news for organics in Britain, however: the sector has warned of huge losses as a consequence of a no deal Brexit, as the EU will no longer recognise certified products as organic. The current political uncertainty is already robbing producers of custom as European buyers turn to more reliable sources. 

"Biodiversity for food & agriculture is indispensable to food security & sustainable development." This week, the launch of the FAO’s Biodiversity for Food & Agriculture report focuses on the state of global biodiversity that underpins food systems and highlights the benefits of soil-improving agroecological practices. Read more here. 

The FAO has also launched a new handbook around on-farm practices for the safe use of wastewater in urban and peri-urban horticulture.

Although not traditional soils, underwater soils have value and function, and scientists are working to get them the recognition they deserve. Coastal communities are affected by underwater soils, and in turn these soils face threats from human activity on land – yet until now underwater soil has been poorly understood. 

The newly released New York Soil Health Roadmap identifies key policy, research and education efforts to overcome barriers to adoption of soil health practices by farmers. It also identifies strategies for integrating soil health goals with state priorities focused on environmental issues such as climate change and water quality. 

“What’s good for the soil is good for the climate – and for business.” GreenBiz reveals the extent to which the food industry has started to adopt soil fertility practices and initatives in order to meet sustainability goals and safeguard supply chain resilience.  

The first dedicated soil health lab has opened in Illinois, providing farmers in the Mid-West with the ability to achieve quick and accurate soil biology assessments. 

Survey results are encouraging farmers to rethink their soil health: a study in to earthworm populations found them to be rare or absent in 2/5 fields, prompting 57% of farmers to change their soil management practices.

And leading worm scientist Jackie Stroud appeared on Radio 4’s Today programme to discuss the results of her research in to earthworm populations, and why this is important for soils. Listen again from 1 hour 50.