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16 April 2020

A new study has concluded that, following initial short term benefits to crops, plastic mulch goes on to damage soil health properties which impacts on long term health of plants and crop yields. The news comes as China announces the first draft of a law to ban thin plastic mulch in agriculture, suggesting biodegradable alternatives or mitigating strategies are necessary.

Is carbon sequestration on farms actually working to fight climate change? This piece explores the science available alongside emerging large-scale supportive initiatives, considering the mutual benefits of improving soil health such as retaining water and cutting on-farm costs; the practicalities around measuring carbon; and the challenge of rewarding sequestration fairly.

Farmers are still concerned about that the necessary 80,000 labourer positions will not be filled in time for the forthcoming soft fruit season – despite the recent huge spike in interest in agricultural work - and are issuing fresh calls for workers and fruit pickers.

The Nature Friendly Farming Network has published a report ‘Feeding the Nation’ which shows how nature friendly farmers are responding to Covid-19 and supporting local communities – and what we, the public, can do to support them.

Podcasts, webinars and reading to help us through lockdown:

Farmers Guardian and the CLA are producing a podcast to support and inform through the current challenging times. Over the Farm Gate will provide weekly thought-provoking and light-hearted debate around current key issues affecting farming, food and the countryside.

The inaugural Oxford Real Farming Conference Review is out now, with articles from the food and farming frontlines on topics including countryside resilience, agriwilding and short supply chains, as well as a list of great books, films and podcasts for those that need some isolation inspiration. Contact ORFC if you would like to contribute to their next edition.

The Future of Land Management webinar series will be providing weekly episodes on a variety of land-relevant topics. The next two upcoming webinars focus on natural capital payment opportunities and whole estate planning; the full list of streams coming up is here.

Need something to read? The biography of ‘the planter of modern life’, farming pioneer and soil-lover Louis Bromfield, is reviewed in Nature.

And Garden Alchemy, comprised of 80 recipes for soil-improvers like organic fertilisers and potting mixes, along with at-home DIY soil tests, is reviewed here.