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23 April 2020

New University of Exeter research has found unsustainable soil erosion across parts of the UK. The study found 16% of records relating to arable land demonstrated erosion above ‘tolerable’ levels, meaning soil resources are at risk in the medium to long-term – and with implications for food security and the health of water courses.

The UN’s FAO has launched a Soil Spectral Calibration Library, suggesting that setting and understanding universal standards will assist with planetary health. It aims to build global capacity in soil spectroscopy methods, and will provide a free, easy to use soil estimation service.

A new study suggests that incorporating straw into agricultural land could help to reduce ammonia emissions and also improve soil fertility and the long-term sustainability of the land. The practice could also increase carbon storage in the soil.

The current generation of farmers have multiple challenges to tackle – not only covid 19, but the impacts of climate change and the necessary transition to more sustainable methods of land management. America’s Natural Resources Defense Council have found the most common and effective strategy for farmers adapting to climate change is improving soil health. They’ve produced a report on ‘climate ready soil’ - making farms more resilient to extreme weather risks.

Gardening season continues as people across the UK turn to their gardens in isolation. Here’s another useful, informative piece on mulching –to regulate soil temperature and moisture, capture carbon and, eventually, create new, enriched topsoil. As the author says “that my friends is always the end game. Healthy soil, healthy planet, healthy humans.” Meanwhile, this article has plenty of tips and resources for every type of space and grower, and Garden Organic shares some great advice on tending your garden in April – starting with Soil Matters.

And globally renowned agroecologist Nicole Masters will be giving a webinar on regenerating soil health, following publication of her book ‘For the Love of Soil’ which is “a conversational dive in to how anyone can regenerate their soils, reduce costs and produce top quality food.”

The SSA’s soil monitoring FOI request has reared its head again, this time in the Farmers Guardian. Professor Jenni Dungait this time comments that she is seeing increased focus on soil health from landowners – but that, to support this, “at national level, a continuous cycle of soil monitoring across the UK is essential which means assured, ring-fenced funding in to the future…data needs to be free access [so it can be used] to make better soil management decisions based on evidence.”

The benefits of composting: one farmer gives an in depth account of the transition from chemical farming to the rebuilding of soil health via production of his own organic compost – including detailed descriptions of macronutrients and humus, and the processes involved from start to finish.

Finally, this year marked the 50th anniversary of 22 April’s annual Earth Day, and celebrations alongside calls to protect the natural world took place round the globe. Check out #EarthDay on twitter and follow up here to discover possible next steps and actions you can take to continue to support the earth and our environment.