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31 May 2019

“Feeding a growing global population and limiting the impacts of climate change are interwoven problems” The Global Food Practice Leader at WWF International highlights the importance of fertile soils for carbon storage, sustainable agriculture and ‘solving the greatest challenges of our time’ to coincide with the Global Soil Week event currently taking place in Nairobi.

Fera’s Big Soil Community soil sampling project launched at the Cereals event last year and has just released its first year’s results. The project aims to improve understanding of microbial biodiversity in agricultural soils, and to build a community of farmers, growers and scientists that will continue to develop the soils database.

Cereals 2019 takes place on 12/13 June and features a new Conservation Agriculture Theatre that will feature farming and land management techniques to improve soil health, preserve water and air, and contribute to healthy, sustainable farming and production. Farmers Guardian are currently previewing the event.

The Guardian has produced a feature focusing on the disastrous loss of topsoil with respect to our global ability to produce enough food – along with measures being taken by farmers to restore soil health. There is some good news: for example, in the last 10 years the Berns Brothers have seen their cover crop sales increase from 2000- to 850,000 acres-worth.

Teabags are the latest tool being deployed by farmers to measure the ability of their soils to degrade organic matter, reports Farmers Weekly.

Already this year, US states have introduced 39 soil health bills, in what is being recognised as a snowballing move to regenerative agriculture for the mutual benefit of land health and productive farming. Its suggested that climate change is giving the conversation more urgency.

“We have to make farming sexy…we have to show people farming is bling.” New millennial agricultural entrepreneurs in Ghana are bringing respect back to farming, a trade currently synonymous with poverty.

We reported recently on the big American firms launching an investment programme in soil sustainability for their producers. This piece elaborates on the programme and activity, and why experts are unsure if the initiative will have an actual impact on sustainable farming.

And finally, a reminder of the holistic benefits of all that stems from the soil: ruminations on the all-round health and wellbeing benefits of nature, centring around renowned neurologist Oliver Sacks’ celebration of the healing power of gardens.