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09 July 2020

Ask not what soils can do for us…. SSA Director Ellen has written a piece for The Land magazine on why asking how many more harvests our soil can sustain is, ultimately, missing the point. Read and download the full article from our Soil Soap Box.

The UN has released a report on zoonotic diseases, warning that humanity is treating the symptoms of pandemic outbreaks rather than the root cause – namely, environmental destruction, intensive unsustainable farming and growing demand for meat. They advocate a ‘one health’ approach that unites human, animal and environmental health.

“The science is clear that if we keep exploiting wildlife and destroying our ecosystems, then we can expect to see a steady stream of these diseases jumping from animals to humans in the years ahead…If humanity gives nature a chance to breathe, it will be our greatest ally as we seek to build a fairer, greener and safer world for everyone.”

Download the report here.

The Green Alliance has released a Blueprint for a Resilient Economy in the wake of the global health crisis, with an emphasis on investing in net zero infrastructure, restoring nature, halting the waste of valuable natural resources, and ensuring clean air. Read the report here.

And, in a new report, the Wildlife Trusts have impressed the need to halve pesticide use and double the UK’s nature network in order to reverse the catastrophic decline of insects and the ecosystems that rely on them. They stress “If we get it right for insects we get it right for everything else.”

“Whether as an individual you ‘like’ insects or not, we need them. Without their help in recycling nutrients and keeping soil healthy, it would be much harder to grow crops, and ¾ of our crops that require insect pollinators would produce little or nothing.”

Researchers have provided the story behind a uniquely dark wetland soil originally deemed ‘problematic’, so demonstrating and elaborating on the importance of and art behind the science of soil classification.

Fermented organic waste is better for soil health than composted, according to initial independent trials. The process, called ‘bokashi’, significantly reduces carbon and organic matter losses, making more nutrients available to subsequent crops.

A new analysis published in the Open Journal of Soil Science has presented a series of medieval and modern case studies to identify the most restrictive and ideal soils for tunnelling. The study details the geologic materials, bedrock, water tables and climate for each tunnel network, and may be useful for future defences against smuggling and border crossings.

Researchers studying the effects of gold mining on the Amazon rainforest have found significant nitrogen leeching and mercury levels up to 250x higher than normal, combining to impact on the growth of new trees. Sites of former gold mines have been found to have the lowest level of tree recovery ever recorded in rainforest terrain.

Finally a reminder that Defra’s Environmental Land Management consultation is still live and receiving responses until 31 July. The department are also hosting interactive webinars to discuss implications of the new policy with farmers, foresters and land managers. Join the discussion, submit your feedback and register for an online session here.