Soil News stories

Science & Research News

Science & Research News

10 July: A progress report from the Soil Health Institute reveals an increase in soil health practices such as cover cropping and no-till production in farming across the US.

10 July: US farmers are planting more chickpeas than ever to satisfy growing demand for plant-based protein and the result has been an improvement in soil health.

9 July: 1/3 world’s arable soils suffer from a lack of accessible iron, rendering them inhospitable to staple crops. A Stanford research team has recently made a breakthrough which could enable future growth of crops on these alkaline soils.

9 July: A discussion on the most eco-friendly way to dispose of bodies has revealed the damaging effects to climate, the environment and soils of cremation and burial.

3 July: New research from Northumbria and Newcastle Universities suggests that national allotment guidance should be revised as it does not accurately describe how lead is stored in soil or passed on to vegetables.

2 July: Sydney University is developing a system to test soil in paddocks, using sensors to build an accurate digital soil map.

22 June: Iran is responsible for a huge 10% of the world’s soil loss, with 2bn tons eroding annually. This is reportedly due to unsustainable agriculture, destruction of natural reservoirs and overgrazing. The country’s governmental policies are increasingly in conflict with nature.

20 June: Wormlike bivalves have been discovered in a river in the Philippines that use their tough, teeth-like shell to eat rock and then excrete sand, contributing to the lie and shape of the riverbed.

19 June: New research suggests biochar may be more effective at soil carbon capture than enhancing plant growth. The University of Illinois study found biochar may boost the agricultural yield of some soils but found little evidence of enhanced germination/growth.

Politics & Policy News

Politics & Policy News

15 July: We responded to the government’s consultation on tenant farmers. Read our views on tenancy reform and soil health here.

10 July: Read the full transcript of the recent House of Lords discussion on soil health and provision for soils in forthcoming policy here.

10 July: The UK’s Climate Change Committee published their progress report restating the need for urgent action & suggests credibility of net zero target relies on government action in next 18 months. Reformed land use recommendations include an effective post-CAP framework, major afforestation & a peat strategy for England.

13 June: The Bureau of Investigative Journalism & the Guardian have found UK ammonia emissions are rising due to government inaction. Taking simple measures to cut it would significantly improve air quality and save 3000 lives/year.

13 June: Satellites and drones are being used by the Environment Agency to identify soil loss and run-off problems in wet conditions and farms that could be at risk if they do not improve their soil management practices.

12 June: Agriculture named as key emitter and soils highlighted (including a link to our 2018 parliamentary event) in list of changes necessary to achieve Theresa May’s commitment to a net zero UK by 2050.

5 June: The Environment Agency expressed concern over the depositing of soil into landfill. Soil, representing 55% the tonnage of material sent to landfill in 2016, could be cleaned & returned to the land.

3 June: The Environment Agency launched their new State of the Environment: Soil report at the inaugural meeting of the new Devon & Cornwall Soils Alliance. Read Chair Emma Howard-Boyd’s speech from the launch and our reflections on policy and the report.

Stakeholder & Supporter News

Stakeholder & Supporter News

16 July: The RSA Food Farming & Countryside Commission have released a report linking the broken food system, public health crises & environmental destruction, & recommending a shift to sustainable farming.

11 July: The Guardian released a video on soil health with contributions from the SSA alongside friends and partners from Durham and Sheffield Universities, Groundswell, the Soil Association and CPRE.

9 July: The Queen made headlines whilst visiting our friends at the National Institute for Agricultural Botany in Cambridge, when she insisted she was still capable of planting a tree unassisted.

5 July: The Sustainable Food Trust & NFU co-hosted a conference on Farming, Climate Change & reaching net zero emissions. View the first plenary here and explore the SFT site for more event videos, pictures & insight.

30 June: Our friends at Sectormentor for Soils have compiled a Soil Soap Box piece for us on the many benefits of earthworms to soil health.

26 June: The Sustain Alliance (of which SSA are members) published this inspiring & informative piece on the need to support our soils.

18 June: Triodos Bank have called for a radical overhaul of the UK's food & farming sector, with a vision paper outlining the path towards ecologically & socially resilient food & agriculture systems.

17 June: The World Day to Combat Desertification & Drought was celebrated with a seminar on drought and agriculture: ‘Counting crops and drops – let’s grow the future together’ at FAO HQ.

11 June: The Soil Association released a new report interrogating government’s claims of a ‘Green Brexit.’

6 June: New AHDB research project is trialling a traffic light and MOT system with soil health indicator monitoring scorecards in an attempt to save UK soils.

For an archive of past soil announcements by date, see our section:  The Week in Soil.