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15 September 2023

Wednesday saw the eighth annual #BackBritishFarmingDay, and Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey announced new measures to support farmers and encourage UK shoppers to buy British. These include a new fund to support small scale abattoirs, an accelerated 25% Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) payments during the first month of agreement, as well as a grant scheme to support the installation of solar panels. 

The UK Government has allowed the continued use of 36 harmful pesticides that are banned under EU regulations. Of these pesticides, many have been classified as carcinogenic, and there are concerns that their continued use will hugely impact bee and other wildlife populations. Thérèse Coffey has also voiced her support for the pesticide glyphosate, which she argues is critical to regenerative agriculture. 

Nestlé UK and Cargill have teamed up to trial a new regenerative initiative using technology to turn cocoa shells into a low carbon fertiliser. They plan to test the new fertiliser, and assess its impact on crop productivity, soil health and emissions. Danone is also trialling regenerative agriculture programmes with dairy farmers in 20 countries worldwide, citing soil health as one of the main focuses of the work. 

A study published by Clemson University shows the benefit of using cover crops does not negate the value of cash crops. It points to the appetite of farmers to use cover crops to improve soil health and protect against extreme weather, as well as the reduced need for pesticide use when interseeding. The study found that the cover crops did not compete for water or nutrients, nor impact the yield of the cash crops. 

Project Fortress has published initial findings from a 5 year study on improving soil health and increasing carbon storage. In the study, they have run a series of trials in partnership with a farm in Northamptonshire which include cover cropping, ’agrofloristry’ and herbal ley, and are measuring their impact on soil, biodiversity and insect levels. 

The life of Lady Eve Balfour, organic farmer and founder of the Soil Association, was memorialised on a BBC radio show. The hosts discussed her pioneering study of the connection between soil health and human health, as well as her work to launch the organic food movement. 

Eagle County Conservation District held its annual community engagement workshop, with soil health as this year’s theme. The event included a demonstration of the effect of rainfall on various soil types, as well as an introduction to the ranch’s 20,000 pounds of worms and how they are being utilised to improve soil on the ranch. 

September 14th celebrated farmers who grow organically and agro ecologically. The #IGrowYourFood social media campaign encouraged farmers from around the world to share their stories about why they chose agroecology or organic, and what their call to action to policy makers and citizens would be.