The Week in Soil

On Monday we hosted an event at Portcullis House in Westminster to discuss the Economics of Soil: Private Asset or Public Good? Co-facilitated with our Champion Rebecca Pow MP – demonstrating her commitment to the cause by presenting a bag of soil from her garden at the podium along with her opening remarks – our panel included Liz Truss MP (Chief Secretary to the Treasury); Greg Clark MP (SoS for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy); our Science Panel Chair and Soil Security Programme coordinator Chris Collins; Chair of the Environment Agency Emma Howard Boyd; Director of the RSA’s Food Farming & Countryside Commission Sue Pritchard, and others from academia and business. The event was extremely well received: read this blog from GreenBlue Urban, revisit the live twitter stream via @soilsalliance #sustainablesoilsnow #soilhealth and check back to our website here in the coming weeks for videos of all speakers and a report summing up key messages from the event.

Andrew Voysey, Soil Capital Head of Business & Government Solutions and a member of our Economics of Soil event planel, produced this piece for We Mean Business on how food & agri-business can harness soil to store carbon and create value.

In a further addition to the long-running analysis of government policy post-Brexit, the Ecologist has produced a run-down of how the UK’s environmental regulations are affected by the EU and what impact our exit will have on the future of farming and the environment.

Meanwhile, Miles King responds to the government’s commitment to incorporating biodiversity in to new infrastructure and housing developments with his latest blog, a discussion around the concept of net gain.

With regards to another long-running debate, the Guardian have produced this comprehensive review of glysophate – the controversial weed-killer denounced by some as a danger to public health with a direct link to the onset of cancer.

One of our partner organisations Sustain has launched a new briefing on issues of workers’ pay, farmer treatment and fairness in supermarkets and the food retail supply chain. They report that EU Groups including Traidcraft have been having great success with implementation of an EU Unfair Trading Practices Directive, suggesting we should be calling for the same in the UK.

"We know more about the surface of Mars than we do about either the oceans or soils on Earth." New research has found that soil minerals could act as a huge carbon sink - and highlights the need for a greater focus on understanding the earth beneath our feet:

 Bad news in the American Midwest as it’s reported the ‘biggest challenge’ of Nebraska’s recent extreme floods will be “restoring the region’s greatest resource, the reason there are so many farms there in the first place: its soil.” Farmers are considering systemic changes including adoption of regenerative agriculture techniques to combat the growing threat of climate change to their trade.

In a new study, a team of four ecologists have now discovered that above-ground insects such as caterpillars can retrieve ‘voicemail’ from the ground, as creatures are able to retrieve ‘soil messages from the past’ as they ingest soil, which also greatly enriches their intestinal flora.

And finally, studying the soil from a meteor crater could help in tracing changes during and after impact, and analysing the presence of various chemicals and minerals could help us to understand both how the local ecosystem was affected and how it is recovering.