Soil Saviours
Costing the Earth

Wed 1 Mar 2017

Can soil play a role in the fight against climate change? Our soils are the biggest store of terrestrial carbon on the planet. This crucial non-renewable natural resource is under threat, and millions of hectares of farmland are lost every year through erosion and degradation of topsoil, releasing significant quantities of carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. 

The French Government believes that soil can play a significant part in keeping the rise in global average temperatures below 2 degrees. They've introduced an initiative called "4 per 1000", which aims to improve the organic carbon matter in soil stocks by 4 parts in 1000 per year. They claim such an increase in soils around the world would be enough to offset all human emissions of greenhouse gases each year. Tom Heap talks to scientists and farmers to find out what can be done to put carbon back below our feet.


BBC Radio 4

Soil Science
Shared Planet

Mon 21 Oct 2013

Shared Planet explores the link between a growing human population and wildlife and there is no other part of the natural world that is under as much pressure as the earth's soils. We rely on them to grow healthy crops, which they can only do if they support an appropriate community of bacterial, fungal and invertebrate life. Wildlife too depends on this diverse life that thrives in the soil, everything from birds to plants to insects. The earth worm is the surprising champion of soils and an animal that looks vulnerable in the face of human population pressure.


BBC World Service

The Living Soil
Part 1 - Earth

23 March 1992

"How did it begin? Where did our earth come from? The top soil, teeming with life, earthworms, moles, and under that microscopic organisms that spend their whole life in the darkness below ground." Clay Jones, gardener.

Programme includes Lady Eve Balfour, author of The Living Soil, and Patrick Holden from The Soil Association.


BBC World Service

The Living Soil
Part 2 - Soil

14 July 1992

What happens when soil gets poisoned or compacted, or the surface is stripped of its trees, bushes, grass and the soil erodes? How can humans prevent the cycle of life from snapping?

"I think we're coming to the realisation that the wealth of nations has always been the wealth of nature to an important extent." Donald Worster Professor of American History at the University of Kansas.