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12 December 2019

It may be all over now, but SSA Director Matthew Orman has reflected on soil in the party manifestos, as featured on the Sustain website. Learn more about what soils and the environment may be in for (depending on today’s result!)

Meanwhile, MEPs are calling for a legal framework to protect land, oceans and wildlife – as currently only one of 20 globally-agreed biodiversity targets is even close to being met. Action to halt biodiversity loss is based on voluntary commitments, but the call suggests this approach is not working and wants the EU to lead the way in bringing and working within legally-binding pledges. The EU parliament will vote on the issue in January.

As a further thought on this, Friends of the Earth have suggested that "subsidies should be overhauled to help farmers move away from intensive chemical-dependent practices, and the EU must help us all to reduce consumption of global resources which is driving the destruction of nature".

Following on from last week’s focus on World Soil Day (WSD), Farmer’s Weekly have captured the 5 best social media posts from farmers on the day, using #farmingcares to highlight what farming is doing for soil health alongside delivery of public goods and provision for wildlife and natural spaces.

There is also a chance to input into the Horizon Europe Mission Soil health and food, to increase the impact of research and demonstrate that science matters in day-to-day lives. Tell the European Commission what you know about soils before 19 January 2020, and follow #EIPagriSoil to find out more about their soily activities around WSD and beyond.

And finally here is another comprehensive roundup of the scale and impacts of soil erosion, this year’s WSD theme – with a special focus on Turkey, where degradation has increased as a result of a rising population and migration and 11 hectares are lost due to urbanisation every hour.

News of human composting first surfaced last year as a concept – now the world’s first facility designed to turn corpses in to soil has been confirmed as due to open in 2021. Based in Seattle, the recomposition service will be offered as an environmentally-friendly alternative to cremation and burial.

To add to the ever-lively no-till debate, a new Stanford University study has found that Midwest farmers who reduced how much they overturned, or tilled, the soil increased crop yields while also nurturing healthier soils and lowering production costs. The study lead author said “no till is a win-win for agriculture across the Corn Belt.”

A new Desert community of lichens, fungi and algae have been found in Northern Chile’s Atacama. The ‘biological soil crust’ survives by drawing moisture from daily pulses of coastal fog that roll across the world’s driest nonpolar region.

‘Controlled Environment Agriculture’ is being significantly supported by the Welsh government as a vitally component of the country’s food security and sustainability. This piece confronts the realities of soil-less agriculture, including lacking ecology, missed medicines and a bleak future without a connection to nature and the cycles of life.

The journal Global Environmental Change has published a study focusing on the social and emotional experience of transitioning to regenerative agriculture. It found that those who embraced the move from conventional farming found it intensely rewarding and fulfilling.