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12 March 2020

A new Green Alliance report has found that current measures to reduce plastic waste are not affecting negative impact on soils and water and may cause unintended consequences due to use of untested alternatives. It warns that the approach of addressing plastic waste ‘in isolation’ is not set to change, according to government’s recent Environment Bill.

A review has found that plant domestication often has a negative impact on plant microbiomes, making domesticated plants more dependent on fertilizer and other soil amendments than wild relatives. To make crops more productive and sustainable biologists recommend reintroduction of genes from the wild relatives of commercial crops to restore domesticated plants' ability to interact with beneficial soil microbes.

UK sales of Soil Association certified textiles were up 10% last year due to greater consumer demand and availability of organic cotton, the UK Organic Textile Market 2020 report has shown. Conventionally farmed cotton is one of the most soil-degrading crops – find out more here.

“A brighter portrait of these dreary fields…networks of fungi bustling with activity beneath the wilting grass — feeding on sugars at tips of roots, sponging up rainwater and extending tendrils that nourish pasture.” This latest in a long-ish line of pieces on soils’ contribution to climate mitigation brings to life the farmer’s passion for soil life, and delves into detail behind an invigorated interest in soil health from entrepreneurs and policymakers.

A Massachusetts Institute Review considers the different roles that various soil microbes play in soil's nitrogen cycle – where the microbes catalyse the transformations of soil nitrogen into plant-useable forms - with potentially important implications for farmers.

The Union of Concerned Scientists are asking US citizens to lobby Congress to implement science-based public policies that invest in farmers and soil. If you are American, write to your member of Congress urging them to support the Agriculture Resilience Act, and the transition of the agriculture sector to net zero.

This blog from a UCS Senior Scientist details 6 ways the Act would equip farmers to fight the climate crisis with science.

An interview on regenerative agriculture within cattle production discusses switching perception from use of soil to grow plants – to using the plants to grow the soil. The article gives tips and guidance to support the shift to regenerative, soil-focused agriculture.