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28 May 2020

Forum for the Future has released a report exploring the barriers and opportunities to scale regenerative agriculture in the US. Growing our Future focuses on the possibility of a more sustainable way of farming in a country that loses 996 tonnes of soil through erosion annually, and in the context of the fragility of our food supply chain exposed by the global pandemic.

They will also be holding  webinar on the subject on 25 June – more information here.

And by way of a great case study of implementing sustainable methods on-farm, this Spanish almond producer describes how changing his way of working with the land has rejuvenated his soil and protected his land from the threat of desertification – as well as supporting climate change mitigation.

On that topic, a carbon footprint tool designed to help British farmers reduce their emissions has updated to include a soil sequestration module. The free tool is the first to use the accredited IPCC methodology for soil carbon sequestration.

Meanwhile, a World Resources Institute article discusses whether or not regenerative agriculture – whilst definitively beneficial to soil health – is effective in mitigating climate change. Their argument that carbon sequestration has limited potential in terms of significantly reducing global emissions is based on the WRI report Creating a Sustainable Food Future which lays out 22 strategies to cut emissions by 2/3 while still feeding a growing global population.

A newly-discovered microbe could uncover how soil absorbs carbon and promotes growth. A deeper understanding of how bacteria regulate carbon cycling in soil ecosystems may allow researchers to better predict the effects of climate change on soil health.

University of Sheffield scientists have suggested good bacteria could boost soil health in much the same way probiotics have a positive effect on human gut health. They hope that providing plants with a boost of good bacteria will improve their natural defences to pests and diseases, and therefore reduce the amount of chemicals needed to aid good growth.

Plans, policies and guidelines have been put in place in China in a concerted effort to solve the severe soil pollution problem which sees nearly 20% of the country’s agricultural land contaminated, and over 80% of that by inorganic pollutants that pose real threats to human health. More on their soil pollution management plan here.

Finally, gardening continues to provide solace for so many people during this strange time. This lovely profile piece emphasises the physical and mental health benefits an allotment provides, and gives tips on how to go about getting a new plot up and running – including the all-important “get to know your soil.”