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17 December 2021

Defra has published its UK Food Security Report 2021, an analysis of statistical data on food security in the United Kingdom. In terms of soil, the report highlights the resource’s importance for food production and reiterates that soil degradation costs England and Wales £1.2 billion per year and intensive agriculture has caused arable soils to lose 40% to 60% of their organic carbon.

A network of agribusiness groups lobbying to water down the EU’s sustainable farming targets has been mapped by Desmog. The research identifies 14 companies and trade bodies that have pushed back against EU environmental and agrochemicals policy between 2019 to 2021. The analysis reveals these companies have had inputs in the policy-making process through a wide range of means, including through membership of expert and advisory groups, sponsorship of events and  meetings with EU officials.

In England, Defra has announced that the final revised national action plan on the sustainable use of pesticides will be published in Spring 2022.

The Environment Agency has published a new video highlighting the impact of intensive farming on soil and water at the River Axe catchment. The video also demonstrates how the Agency can work together with farmers to ensure good water quality and environmental compliance in order to build a sustainable agricultural industry that works alongside and contributes to an improving environment.

A new report by Common Wealth, ‘Farming the future: Transforming the ownership of food systems research and data’, argues for transformational change in ownership of data and information in farming. The report puts forward an alternative future pathway based on principles of agroecology promoting farming with nature and a redistribution of power around data and research.

New research on low-cost soil sensors demonstrates how such technology could help farmers cut their fertilizer use which could reduce the expensive and environmentally damaging effects of over fertilising soil. Such effects currently include the emission of nitrous oxide and polluting of soils and waterways.

A two-year pilot study in Brighton and Hove reveals that city allotments could be as productive as conventional farms. Volunteer urban growers were able to harvest 1kg of insect-pollinated fruit and vegetables per square metre in a season, using methods less harmful to the environment and having positive social impacts.

This is the last Week in Soil of 2021, our blog will be back on 6th January 2021. You can find our winter newsletter with our main achievements of the year and updates on our policy work here. We’d like to wish all of our broad community of soil enthusiasts a happy holiday season and a happy new year!