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EFRA 2023 Soil Health inquiry

In December 2022 the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA) launched an inquiry into the state of soil to "investigate how the government intends to meet its goal of having all soil managed sustainably by 2030." The Committee press release notes the importance of soil health to growing food, promoting biodiversity and reducing carbon emissions, and asked for responses on 5 key questions:

  1. How can the Government measure progress towards its goal of making all soils sustainably managed by 2030? What are the challenges in gathering data to measure soil health and how can these barriers be overcome?
  2. Do current regulations ensure that all landowners/land managers maintain and/or improve soil health? If not, how should they be improved?
  3. Will the standards under Environmental Land Management schemes (ELMs) have sufficient ambition and flexibility to restore soils across different types of agricultural land? What are the threats and opportunities for soil health as ELMs are introduced?
  4. What changes do we need to see in the wider food and agriculture sector to encourage better soil management and how can the Government support this transition?
  5. What does the UK Government need to do to tackle other stressors on soil health such as soil contamination?

SSA provided a detailed response on the major threats to soil health, and an extensive list of recommendations for the Committee. Based on our submission, we were invited to give oral evidence at parliament, where our Executive Director Matthew Orman spoke alongside representatives from BSSS, Client Earth, CPRE, the Society for the Environment and UKCEH.

Read our summary and full response below, or watch the evidence session here.

In December 2023, to coincide with World Soil Day and COP28, the committee published the report summarising their year-long inquiry, which echoes many of the recommendations we made in our submission.

We welcome the report, and have outlined its key takeaways in a briefing note and infographic, linked below: