The Week in Soil

Soil has been all over the airwaves this week, featured on Radio 4’s Farming Today programme which covered a range of different aspects of soil health each day:

On Monday, Chair of SSA Science Panel Chris Collins discussed whether we are at a turning point for soils.

Tuesday’s programme turned to the impact of healthy soils on clean water and explores the Catchment Sensitive Farming project, a collaboration between Defra, the Environment Agency and Natural England

Stephen Briggs of Innovation for Agriculture and part of the panel of our forthcoming parliamentary Economics of Soil event discussed ways to measure soil health in terms of payments for public goods and introduced the idea of a carbon trading scheme for agriculture.

And on Thursday Jackie Stroud presented her earthworm studies and explained their importance to soils .

Farming Minister George Eustice resigned this week, to be replaced by Robert Goodwill MP. The jury is out on the new Minister, who has made controversial statements about GM crops, biofuels and agricultural workers schemes in the past

Progress of the Agriculture Bill through parliament has stalled. Agriculture, food, trade and Brexit scholars from Belfast and Cardiff Universities have produced this response for the EFRA Committee Inquiry in to the Bill.

Meanwhile, in the US, General Mills, ADM, Cargill, McDonald’s and the Nature Conservancy are among 10 companies and nonprofit organizations that are forming a national market by 2022 to incentivize the adoption of farming practices that build soil carbon and improve water conservation (in other words, what the UK government is currently busy debating as the crux of the new Ag Bill) .

Finally, soil could play a big role in the solution to the plastic pollution problem: soil bacteria has been found to be a key ingredient for turning plants in to biodegradable plastic-like material