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11 November 2022

At COP27 this week, soil ecosystems are being considered as part of the need for action on the environment and the food system. COP27 has the first-ever dedicated Food Systems Pavilion which is hosting several events, ensuring policymakers support healthy global soils and their climate benefits.

The latest WWF-Tesco partnership report on ‘What’s in Store for our Planet- the impact of UK shopping baskets’ highlighted the need to consider and take action on agricultural soils as a major source of emissions. The showcased the work of the SSA on the Soil Health Industry Platform (SHIP), which is a key mechanism to support food retailers coordinate soil health initiatives across the UK. 

Andrew Voysey, the Head of Impact and Carbon at Soil Capital, a leading soil carbon agronomy firm, has stated that ending myths around soil carbon markets could help farmers. A key myth Voysey argued, at an event this week, that needs to end is farmers will get paid for existing carbon stored in soils. Through ending these myths, farmers could access an annual £500 million market. 

Drought has tested the resilience of Spain’s production of olives. Olive trees cover 6.8million acres of Spain’s soils, but due to this summer’s drought these soils have been extremely dry and with a lack of rainfall many farmers have left their olives to continue to grow past the scheduled October harvest. The lack of rainfall is potentially expected to result in halving production of olives. 

Dr Nathan Einbinder, a lecturer at the Schumacher College, has written that crises are key periods and means in which a sustainable transition to regenerative agriculture can be kick- started. He uses the Dig for Victory campaign in the UK during the Second World War and the Special Period in Cuba in the 1990s, as examples of crisis-periods that promoted major systemic changes in food production.  

Amateur gardeners should focus on understanding their soil type and structure in order to successfully grow flowers and vegetables, according to Monty Don. Monty Don has urged growers to assess what type of soil they have in their garden and take actions that can support their soil structure especially through using compost.  

A researcher sets out how food could be grown on Mars by looking at how the use of microorganisms and bioremediation of soils on Mars could allow humans to live and grow food to sustain themselves on the planet.