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09 October 2020

Sir David Attenborough and Prince William have launched the ‘Earthshot Prize’, what they hope will become the ‘Nobel Prize for environmentalism’. They are searching for 50 solutions to the world’s most pressing environmental issues by 2030 and will award £50m over a decade.

A new study reveals that nitrous oxide emissions from global intensive farming are growing at a rate of 1.4% a year, which surpasses the IPCC’s forecasts. If nothing is done to reduce these, the world would exceed the Paris agreement's 2ºc warming limit.

The Nature Friendly Farming Network has published a new report ‘Nature Means Business’. Their case studies reveal that the UK’s farming industry could face a wave of bankruptcies unless the government helps farmers change their production methods to ones that enhance biodiversity and enable a low-carbon future.

Environment Agency chief executive Sir James Bevan has issued a statement in which he states that the EA lacks the power and resources to effectively tackle farming pollution. Whilst levels of ammonia, phosphates and metals in water have reduced, nitrate levels from fertilisers and slurry have risen in the past two years.

On a similar note, the river Wye in Wales has been heavily impacted by phosphate, nitrogen and ammonia pollution created by intensive poultry units. A network of 30 environmental and countryside organisations has called for a moratorium on planning approval for new intensive chicken farms. 

The Scottish ‘Sustainable Agriculture Capital Grant Scheme’ provides funds for farmers to help them reduce the impact of farm machinery on soil. The scheme closes for applications on Sunday 11 October.

Defra Secretary George Eustice confirmed that it was unlikely that the UK government would accept any amendments made to the Agricultural Bill.

Soil scientists from RUDN University have reported on their study of urban soils in 5 climatic zones. Their results confirm the impacts of urbanisation on soil including decreasing soil acidity, increasing carbon concentrations and decreasing tree trunk sizes.

Natural England has published its priorities for 2020-2025. Its mission is focused on building partnerships to ensure nature’s recovery, including restoring and building natural capital and finding nature-based solutions to tackle climate change.

The FAO and its Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS) have released the GSOC MRV Protocol. The protocol aims to measure, monitor, report and verify soil organic carbon in agricultural landscapes.

The renowned soil scientist Rattan Lal has been awarded the Canadian-based Arrell Global Food Innovation Award for increasing food production around the globe by improving soil health.

And finally, if you haven't already seen it, our Autumn newsletter came out this week. In it we discuss our current projects including our work on the history of soil guidance and our carbon consortium, as well as a summary of our policy and consultation responses.