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11 June 2020

Cereals Live, the landmark event for the arable sector, took place online this week, as it was suggested that soil health is becoming a number 1 topic in arable farming. There were several soil health sessions including an exploration of fermenting organic matter to boost crop health and reduce emissions. Find more sessions and join the conversation at #CerealsLIVE2020

For anyone in the sector that would like to explore and learn further, AHDB are hosting a webinar on 16 June focusing on the elements of soil health and their impact on soil function within arable farming systems.

A new Sustain briefing A Green & Pressured Land unpicks the many and competing demands on UK rural & peri-urban land, focusing on the ways farming and land management could be developed to meet future food, environment and health challenges – in the context of all UK countries but England having land use strategies already in place. The report includes 8 recommendations for future land use strategy.

The Agriculture Bill went for its second reading at the House of Lords this week. Read a library briefing on the Bill here. There is still widespread concern that the Bill doesn’t include protection for UK food standards and the environment. Green Party peer Natalie Bennett spoke to give the Bill as it stands a “Grade D effort, not even a pass mark.” Read her speech in full here, with a link to the full debate at the bottom. Sustain’s farming lead and SSA advisor Vicki Hird spoke about the Bill on Sky News.

Scientists are constructing a soil image bank of Western Siberia, from steppes to tundra. The results will help to build models of the dynamics of soil changes, to predict how soil fertility will change in a given territory and which areas will be at risk of degradation.

A study has revealed that plant diversity impacts on soil properties and fauna within rubber plantations. Higher plant diversity correlates with better functioning soil properties, in this case used as an indicator of soil quality.

Finally, for those looking to enhance their soil, Bloomberg has provided a shopping list of eight soil-improvers, ranging from the classic (worm casts) to the obscure (coconut husks, kelp meal) to the downright fantastical (zeolite, azomite).