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10 December 2021

A new report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) highlights that plastic pollution is also pervasive in our agricultural soils. With 12.5 million tonnes of plastic used in agricultural production ending up as waste annually, soil is the main receptor as 93% of global agricultural activities take place on land. The report recommends developing a comprehensive voluntary code of conduct to cover all aspects of plastics throughout agrifood value chains and calls for more research, especially on the health impact of microplastics.

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has launched a call for action on carbon trading, to ensure that Welsh farmers are part of the solution to achieving Net Zero rather than being  a casualty of carbon offsetting by powerful players. The 10 recommendations set out include establishing a singular Soil Carbon Code.

The Scottish Government has launched a new peer-to-peer network for farmers and crofters to highlight and share climate change mitigation actions. The Agriculture, Biodiversity and Climate Change Network (ABCCN) will be an online platform (yet to be established) hosted on the Farming for a Better Climate website. Farmers will be able to share a wide range of information to share the measures and results.

On Monday, Rebecca Pow, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at Defra, confirmed that the government will review rules on moorland burning next spring. Her statement appears to indicate that the government may be open to tightening the Heather and Grass etc. Burning (England) Regulations 2021 from next April. 

The FAO has also published a guide for teachers on ‘Salty experiments with soil for children’ to celebrate this year's World Soil Day theme: Halt soil salinization, boost soil productivity. The guide offers simple explanations and experiments to engage children with this global issue.

Spoonfuls of soil taken from Canada's permafrost are revealing new information on the extinction dynamics and survival of megafauna like mammoths, horses and other long-lost life forms. New research is using DNA capture-enrichment technology to reconstruct the ancient ecosystems present in tiny soil samples which contain billions of microscopic genomic sequences from animal and plant species. 

The final SoilTalks of the year (a webinar series on soil hot topics led by uksoils and the Soil Care Network) is happening Monday 13th December at 4-5pm. The talk will attempt to break down the soil-water silos by presenting three different perspectives on how nature-based solutions can be used for healthy soil-water connections in different landscapes and geographical scales. You can register here.