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18 December 2020

The Environment Agency urges the UK to prepare for the risk of flooding in January and February. Groundwater levels are above average and soils cannot take more rain. On social media, images and videos have been shared of flooding and soil erosion in maize fields. Environmental journalist George Monbiot states maize is one of the greatest threats to UK soils, as its production expands for biogas production in anaerobic digestion plants.

The Welsh Government has announced that farmers can expect direct payments until at least 2022 when the country will move towards a Sustainable Farming Scheme and payments will be available for improved soils, air, water and biodiversity. The Welsh Government is also looking into a set of national minimum standards to create a baseline applicable to all farmers.

Several brands and retailers including Nestlé, McCain and Lidl are planning to assess soil health in France to ‘create systemic change’ across the food supply chain. The Living Soils initiative led by the Earthworm Foundation will act as a soil health indicator and will aim to support farmers in implementing conservation practices.

Rewilding Britain published their new report ‘Reforesting Britain’ in which they argue that natural regeneration should be Britain’s default approach to woodland expansion. The report highlights the important role soils and ground conditions have in allowing seeds to germinate and grow.

The UK government is looking to establish financial sanctions for garden centres who continue selling compost containing peat. The government had previously given the horticultural industry a chance to voluntarily start to swap out peat compost by 2020, however, due to the lack of change this triggered, they will be looking at robust legislative options in 2021.

New amendments to the Environment Bill were put forward on Monday by opposition MPs. These include requiring public authorities to integrate environmental protection into the making of policies and legislation. Other more controversial ones would diminish planning rules on phosphate pollution and allow planning authorities to ignore environmental impacts.

The new documentary by Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Khanjahani ‘On Soil’ premiered this week during Iran’s major international festival for documentary films, Cinéma Vérité. The documentary studies soil erosion in Iran and the impacts this has had throughout the country.

This is the last Week in Soil of 2020, our blog will be back on 8th January 2021. In the meantime, we’d like to wish all of our broad community of soil enthusiasts a happy holiday season and a happy new year!