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14 November 2019

In an opinion piece published this week in Nature Sustainability, a group of scientists argue that the dispute over how much carbon can realistically be stored in soil, as sparked by the 4 per 1000 initiative, is limiting the ability of policymakers to implement policies that build soil carbon for other environmental and agricultural benefit.

"Agricultural soil carbon is foundational to soil health, fertility and climate resilience. There's no doubt about that. This comment distils an array of scientific perspectives, and should be taken as strong support for immediate and extensive action to improve soil health.” The group are, fundamentally, “trying to build out a solution space centered on the protection and restoration of one of our most important natural resources."

Guy Singh-Watson gives a veg grower’s perspective on the recent record rainfall and its impact on the soil, the realities of harvesting pressures and efforts to protect the soil in these difficult conditions in his News from the Farm Wicked Leeks column.

Harmless traces from nuclear testing more than half a century ago are helping researchers assess soil erosion rates. A recent study applied a nuclear technique to assess rates of soil erosion and support land conservation in Benin, where 90% of soils have a high level of degradation but the country’s economy relies heavily on agriculture.

A decade-long study has found ‘frightening’ declines in insect and spider populations in German grasslands and forests, and researchers are calling for a paradigm shift towards coordinated land use as they identify drivers linked to land use – particularly intensive agriculture - surrounding protected areas.

A study commissioned by the Wildlife Trust has shown multiple benefits of outdoor learning for children, including increased confidence, a willingness to try new things and improved relationships with teachers and classmates. Children also believe being outdoors boosts their school work and, as a bonus, they are actively learning new things about the natural world.

The UK government has launched a new £50m scheme to boost tree planting rates as action against climate change. Successful participants will be able to sell Woodland Carbon Units to the government for 35 years for a guaranteed price set at auction.

An interesting thought piece in the Conversation suggests we need to reform farming in order for the countryside to reach its full potential in helping to tackle climate change. The author gives details linking the realities of food production, profit from farming, wildlife decline, public health and climate change mitigation.