14 May 2020
The Agriculture Bill went back to parliament for its third reading on Wednesday, with many of our friends and partner organisations calling for agroecology amendments. The controversial agricultural import standards question was raised, as the government voted to cut tariffs for US imports to advance progress on a free trade agreement. There is concern the form of the Bill does not reflect new concerns around public health, environment and climate. There’s further detail in this interview with the Environment Secretary George Eustice following the passing of the Bill. The sector opinion has been summed up neatly in this twitter thread.
The Green Alliance has coordinated a letter to the Prime Minister from 60 businesses calling for a green approach at the heart of the crisis recovery – as well as increasing access to green spaces and strengthening natural protections.
A new approach to farming for fashion could have a significant positive impact on the sustainability of our soils and health of our environment. Regenerative agriculture "produces stronger crops & provides a healthier way of life for farmers but it’s the impact on soil that’s making it an environmental movement"
The North American Project to Evaluate Soil Health Measurements aims to identify widely applicable soil health measurements for evaluation of soil-improving agricultural practices. The Soil Health Institute has released a paper introducing the project,
Scientists have solved the mystery of what limits plants to take up water from dry soil – i.e. the physical limit to the water-drawing ability of the most drought-tolerant plants. It will also prove valuable in predicting the responsive behaviour of plants to global climate changes.
A study has found that soil pathogens rise as temperatures do – with implications for future food security, as the affect will accelerate climage change-induced crop losses. An evocative equivalent is the pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine
A research team have developed a method to accurately test the presence of gene-silencing pesticides in soil, thereby enabling determination of the level these pesticides persist or degrade in the environment.
Elsewhere, scientists have clarified the role of water vapour in rainfall. They’ve added complexity to the generally understood correlation between wetter soil in the morning and a greater occurrence of afternoon rainfall.
The call for government support for sustainable agriculture is not only taking place on home soil. Indian farmers are making the case for both home food production and nature-friendly agroecology. One advocate says the joy comes from "The fact that there is a patch of land which is now free of poison, where life thrives, and that I am contributing towards healthy soil."