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12 August 2022

The ongoing drought is causing speculation as to the impact of the dry weather on the soil and crop yield, with concerns that - if the drought continues until Autumn, soils will likely to be too dry for farmers to drill new crops.  The NFU are calling on the two Conservative leadership candidates to pay more attention to water management - and to the potential of paying farmers to store it.  Some farmers are highlighting how regenerative farming has improved their soils’ ability to store water.

China has launched its first national soil survey in 40 years. The survey aims to observe the state of soils across China and how they have changed since the last survey in 1990s, especially in the face of increased developments and intensive agriculture. Senior members of the Chinese government are leading the survey team with it viewed as an important project, and will take four years to complete. 

A major Australian Soil Carbon developer, AgriProve, aims to expand its operations as the cost of soil carbon sequestration is falling. The company hopes to run soil carbon projects on soils the equivalent size of Cuba, in Australia. Profits available from soil carbon sequestration are increasing, with the cost of undertaking practices that sequester carbon in soils is falling. 

A precision soil analysis service for farmers, has been launched by Syngenta, the agribusiness. The service is marketed as Interra Scan and is expected to provide high-resolution scans of up to 27 layers of soil and give precise information about soil health. It aims to help farmers apply accurate amounts of inputs including fertiliser and pesticides on soils and crops. 

Dr Derek Lynch, Professor at Dalhousie University, Canada has reviewed organic farming and its impact on soil health and biodiversity. Lynch notes that organic farming aspires to be a form of agroecological farming, but he concludes that while organic farming follows set standards and regulations around soil health, it is not homogenous in its intensity on soils and varies in its agroecological outcomes on soil.

Researchers at the University of California have found a way of using soil bacteria to reduce the use of nitrogen fertilisers on crops. Through increasing the presence of certain chemicals inside a plant that produces soil bacteria, which in turn fixes atmospheric nitrogen into the plant, less nitrogen fertiliser has to be used. 

A biotech firm in Wisconsin is injecting soils with bacteria and electrocuting the ground to deal with ‘forever chemicals’. Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), often known as forever chemicals as they remain in environments for decades, have contaminated soils across the world. Through bacteria and electrocution, Fixed Earth, the biotech firm, hopes the soils will be able to break down the chemicals more quickly and reduce contamination.