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22 September 2023

This week, applications opened for this year’s Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) scheme in England after an initial delay. Under the scheme, farmers can be paid to take action to produce a soil management plan, use winter cover crops and plant herbal leys to improve soil structure. This comes and Rishi Sunak announces plans to drop some Net Zero policies in favour of economy boosting reform. 

The Liberal Democrats have shared their Food and Farming policy paper ahead of their upcoming party conference, in which they state the importance of the role of soil in achieving Net Zero, and their support for the use of natural fertilisers to protect soils. 

The Environment Agency has advised farmers in Devon and Cornwall to take extra care when harvesting maize this year due to wet weather earlier in the summer. It warns that harvesting when the soil is wet can lead to increased runoff and risks localised flooding. It has also recommended that farmers in the counties consider growing different crops in the future as climate change causes more extreme weather. 

A new report has shown that the livestock industry could better utilise the nitrogen through effective monitoring and managing of resources. To do so, it says that farmers need better access to measuring tools to allow them to understand soil nitrogen, and where nitrogen loss occurs. 

King Charles has opened a new rural skills centre at Dumfries House in Scotland. The centre will provide training and aims to make the agricultural sector more accessible to those who otherwise have no connection to it. At the opening, the King attended a workshop on the important link between soil and environment. 

An article has warned that businesses making unsubstantiated regenerative agriculture claims are at risk of greenwashing. Research has shown that of 50 businesses which refer to the benefits of regenerative, 32 have not established any means for achieving targets. 

Aberdeenshire council have taken steps to improve soil health by spreading crushed basalt rock on fields. Taken from local quarries, what would otherwise be a waste product is spread to add nutrients to soil and reduce the need for artificial fertiliser use. 

British gardeners have been warned against a viral TikTok trend which promotes the addition of porridge oats to soil to encourage plant growth. The article shows that this likely does more harm than good, as the oats will add unwanted moisture to soil and cause harm to animals and insects. 

We will be taking a short break from the Week in Soil blog next week, but we’ll be back on 6th October!