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09 April 2020

The government has closed the Environmental Land Management policy consultation in light of the current public health situation, postponing the opportunity to feedback on Defra’s post-CAP land management plans until after the covid-19 crisis subsides. Read their statement here.

The Natural Capital Committee has released a report on the use of nature-based interventions to reach net zero, advising that soils should not be overlooked in climate change mitigation strategies – as they can contribute significantly to the UK’s reduction of greenhouse gases an achievement of net zero emissions.

There’s more on the report here, highlighting that the climate strategy focus should move away from tree planting – which could potentially do more harm than good – and instead concentrate more heavily on soils including peatland, land use and agriculture.

SSA Advisor Andrew Voysey of Soil Capital has published his thoughts on the sort of world we want to build post-Covid – suggesting a large-scale transition to regenerative agriculture will create one that is healthier, more sustainable and more resilient. The company’s development of an analytical tool linking agricultural practices to their economic and climatic impact will support farmers to make the transition – because, as Andrew says, ‘farms that sequester carbon deliver better economic performance.’

The EFRA Committee has launched an inquiry into the impact of the pandemic on our food supply, from farm gate to doorstep deliveries. It will be open for contributions until 1 May.

There’s a scientific reason behind the appealing smell of the earth after it rains, and it stems from the activity of microorganisms in the soil. A study has revealed production of the organic compound geosmin, responsible for the distinctive smell, is part of the chemical language by which bacteria attract invertebrates to help disperse their spores.

In another new study, scientists have found that the tiny hairs on plant roots could be pivotal in stopping soil erosion. The University of Bristol/Exeter research demonstrates the hairs increase cohesion of soil by binding the particles and reinforcing its structure.

#PeatFreeApril continues, as featured in the i this week, comparing the sale of peat-based composts to ‘cutting down rainforests to make chopsticks.’ There are lots of great information pieces and resources on the @peatfreeapril feed to support the move away from peat in horticulture and amateur gardening, including this Postcards from the Bog blog hailing from the far north of Scotland, tips on making compost from the National Trust and this guest blog for the RSPB.