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17 March 2023

Concerns are growing amongst scientists that phosphorus fertiliser is depleting global reserves which are vital for food production. Previous research has highlighted that phosphorus fertiliser in agriculture has been excessive and often leads to leaching from soils. A new book in the US by Dan Egan, The Devil’s Element: Phosphorus and a World out of Balance warns of huge losses in phosphorus which could damage future food production.

The housing company, Bellway Homes, has paid £100,000 as a fine for dumping contaminated soil on a site it was developing. The soil was contaminated with metal, plastics and vehicle tyres. This fine was issued by the Environment Agency as a civil sanction with it moving soils between sites in Northumberland.

Defra has opened funding to boost forest biodiversity and futureproof forests against pests, diseases and climate. Projects that have already received funding from Defra around futureproofing forestry include Woodland Grow that aims to develop natural alternatives to synthetic fertiliser that mimics woodland soils.

10,000 Dutch farmers have protested in The Hague against the Dutch government’s plan to curb nitrogen emissions. The government plans have been controversial with an expectation that some farmers may be paid to leave the industry. These plans follow the EU finding the Netherlands and Belgium were breaching EU regulations on healthy nitrogen oxide levels in their soils and water.

The Wildfarmed flour company are undertaking a UK wide-tour to spread awareness of regenerative agriculture and its role in a sustainable transition. As part of the tour, participating bakeries in places like Nottingham, Manchester and London will be offering free bakery products to customers who ask ‘show me the Wildfarmed’. The tour starts in Darlington on 10th March and will highlight the potential of regenerative farming to produce wheat for bakery goods while improving soil health.

Soil machinery company Lemken has stated that improving soil health is a key focus on its business. The business wants to assess and ensure that its machinery has a positive and low impact on soil, and help farmers manage their soils. It hopes to ensure its dealers and staff have a good understanding of what gentle soil management means exactly.

Six Inches of Soil documentary filmmakers launched their second crowd funder. They are aiming to raise £62,750 to support their final-post production of their documentary film that has been following work across the UK being undertaken by farmers, environmentalists and food advocates to develop regenerative food and farming systems which improve soil health.

A study focused on how permeable and impermeable pavements impacted the growth of plants over a 5 year period. It was found that paved surfaces allow the greatest growth of plants by allowing soils to ‘breathe’. These offer cities the opportunity to plant trees within paved areas. Permeable surfaces allow air and water to flow through them between the air and ground while impermeable surfaces block flows.

In Spain, a new study has found that agroecological practices may improve food production through increasing ecosystem services. The study compared agroecological and conventional horticultural farms. Agroecological practices such as crop diversification, light tillage and use of organic pesticides helped enhance soil fertility, pest control and pollination, which supported food production.