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21 November 2019

A report written by a leading ecologist says an ‘unnoticed insect apocalypse’ caused by heavy pesticide use poses a profound threat to all life on earth. Scientists urged immediate action including cutting pesticide use and making parks and gardens more wildlife friendly.

A team of scientists in Berlin have tested the combined effects of multiple factors of climate change on soils, and found that the overall effect on soil could not be predicted by single factor response, and that combinations of multiple different factors produced unsuspected results.

 This piece expands on the implications of the findings.

An ingenious new cardboard honeycomb structure is helping small scale farmers grow crops in degraded soil, then building an organic strip of terracing vegetation when it degrades to support future growth. Ultimately this could be a low cost solution that helps to break the cycle of soil erosion.

The Consorzio of Soave has embarked on a three-fold programme to preserve soil health and its historic terroir with vineyards planted on steep slopes more susceptible to erosion. The innovative study project undertaken by Soilution System, uses drones to analyse the flow of rainwater down slopes and stop small channels forming.

Agronomists are advising farmers in Scotland to make plans to increase their soils’ future resilience after the recent challenging period of wet weather. They recommend visual analysis and a Healthy Soil Assessment, to identify and improve problem areas – particularly focusing on compaction.

A new tool has been developed to help farmers assess and improve their soil quality. The developer points out “Post-war UK agriculture is something of a victim of its own success. Producing increasingly cheaper food and lowering the cost of production by striving for yield and specialisation has come at a cost to our soil quality.

“Two farms giving the same level of input into crop production could have widely different yields due to the difference in soil quality.”

And last week the Soil Association celebrated the best in sustainability and healthy food served across the UK at the Food for Life Served Here and Green Kitchen Standard Award winners at London City Hall.