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27 November 2020

On Wednesday, the UK Chancellor made a statement to parliament in which he outlined the 2020 Spending Review. The settlement increases Defra’s budget by almost £1 billion. The department intends to put £2.415 billion in ensuring total farm support in England in 2021/22 to meet the government's manifesto commitments and they will provide more than £90 million for the Nature for Climate Fund, to restore peatlands and tree planting.

This week was the 2020 World Antimicrobial Awareness Week. The USDA Agricultural Research Service published a research update on Monday, stating their current success in their tests of a compound found in soil that could bolster the potency of beta-lactam antibiotics. This could potentially reduce the dosages required and help halt resistance in the germs they are meant to kill.

The Guardian reports on the South Poll cow which is being considered as a healthier, more naturally raised cow that can thrive on grass only systems. Soil scientists in the US are finding that they could also encourage soil health and rapid grass growth if used alongside regenerative agricultural systems.

A Cornell project will be developing worm-like, soil-swimming robots that will sense and record soil properties, water, the soil microbiome and how roots grow. The project will focus on maize and hope to directly affect food productivity and security.

A group of global researchers from over 70 institutions contributed to the COSORE (short for COntinuous SOil Respiration) database in the hope to make data on soil respiration accessible and comparable, which is often not the case and hinders the potential for collaboration and research between the science community.

China launched an unmanned spacecraft to the Moon to collect lunar soil on Tuesday. One spacecraft will collect 2kg of soil whilst the other will return to Earth, helping China decide whether to construct a research station on the Moon to conduct other human explorations.

The UN has decided to honour World Soil Day on December 5th by issuing a new pane of stamps. The selvage around the stamps will include information on why soil health is vital to life on Earth. The SSA has partnered up with the UK Center of Ecology and Hydrology, Earthwatch Europe, the University of Sheffield and the British Society of Soil Science to launch an exciting new initiative on World Soil Day. Take part in our soil art competition and look out for future announcements on social media.