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20 August 2020

Extreme weather in 2020, including record-breaking rainfall and heatwaves, has resulted in a tumultuous year for British farming. Land managers are exploring options to improve farming sustainability in coming years; one priority for building resilience to a more variable climate is a focus on improving soil health.

A new Soil Association report explores the risks posed by a disrupted nitrogen cycle. Nitrogen is essential for all life on earth but excess nitrogen is driving climate change, putting habitats at risk & damaging human health.

In a positive step for the UK’s Nature Recovery Networks ambition, Natural England has announced it will support five pilots to test Local Nature Recovery Strategies across the UK.

A survey conducted for National Allotment Week has found organic gardening is on the increase, with four of every 10 allotment sites now containing organic plots. It also shows that people believe attitudes towards organics have changed, and that more people are now considering organic and sustainable growing methods.

“We’re stewards of the land”: nearly 1 in 5 farmers are women, and the numbers are increasing. This article delves in to the lives of four of them, discussing their working routines and experiences of a challenging year.

The World Agroforestry organisation, under the umbrella of the Global Soil Laboratory Network, part of the FAO Global Soils Partnership, has set up an initiative to establish a new global soil spectral library. It is based at the US Department of Agriculture’s Kellogg Soil Survey Laboratory, and will accept online or physical soil sample submissions for analysis.

Australia’s climate change mitigation plans for soil carbon sequestration were hailed as a positive step, but new discussion suggests there may be misconceptions about the effectiveness of biochar and soil carbon as an emissions reduction strategy.

Considering broader brushstrokes this week, Monbiot has written on the inequalities of land ownership and access in the UK, focusing on the Right to Roam campaign which has come to prominence recently with the news from campaigners that the public are excluded from 92% of England’s land.

And finally – the soil in your garden could be used to 3D print your next home. Amazingly, researchers have now developed a method to take soil from the ground and turn it in to ink which can then be used to print buildings and other structures.