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01 November 2019

Unchecked climate change could render the South East too dry for crop production and push arable farming to the North and West of the UK by the end of this century, new University of Exeter research has revealed.

The Environment Bill has passed its second reading in parliament but there are worries it could be stalled yet again as the government focuses on preparing for the forthcoming election. Revisit the debate on the Bill that took place on 28 October here; the debate on rewilding and mass nature recovery for climate change mitigation also took place in the Chambers on the same day – read the transcript here.

An international research team recording temporal changes of soil erosion has found the accumulation of lake sediments increased significantly globally around 4,000 years ago. At the same time, pollen records reveal that tree cover decreased - a clear indicator of deforestation. The study suggests that human practices and land-use change have intensified soil erosion long before industrialization.

What happens to soil microbes during wildfire and how does this impact on flora and fauna that recolonize the burn are? This piece outlines three significant changes that ultimately affect humans: edible morel mushrooms thrive; extremely hot fires sterilize the first layer of soil; and sometimes microbes produce a highly toxic compound called methylmercury.

The recent long period of wet weather in the UK has frustrated efforts to plant crops but has opened a window for soil compaction experiments on one Norfolk farm, as part of the AHDB Monitor Farm network. A series of tests was set up to test the effect of different heavy machinery in order to minimise compaction impacts on fragile soils.

The wet conditions are also affecting the harvesting of root veg, as the machinery needs dry weather to enable the separating of soil from roots and delays cause further problems including bruising. The Riverford Wicked Leeks blog gives us a bird’s eye view of the process this Autumn, focusing on the differences in and role of the soil.

Soil-related metrics at the heart of landscape governance – in this fascinating BBC article Environment Correspondent Roger Harrabin outlines what our landscapes may look like in the future and how this will be underpinned by decisions about soils.