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13 October 2023

At the Labour Party Conference, Sir Kier Starmer laid out his environmental plans in a challenge to Rishi Sunak’s recent reversal of some net zero policies. The environment is central to many policies announced, with focus on renewable energy and the creation of more green spaces.  

Red Tractor has outlined its strategy to simplify the process for UK farmers to showcase their efforts in safeguarding the environment. Their Greener Farm Commitment will be made available as a voluntary environmental module for farmers, processors and packers to sign up to from 1st April 2024. This will include a Soil Management section, and the introduction of a new logo will signify to consumers that these improvements have been made. 

Uksoils are celebrating the second annual UK Soils Awareness Week this week, this year focusing on the role of government in protecting and enhancing soils. They have shared their eight policy asks, aiming to bring soils to the heart of future environmental manifestoes. Follow uksoils on social media to get involved. 

Conservation organisations working with farmers and communities situated along the River Wye are to receive money to protect against summer droughts and winter flooding. The partnership hopes to restore damaged soils and protect wildlife to reduce the impact of extreme weather on local communities. 

An Estonian agri-tech firm has raised €1.4million to bring its soil monitoring technology to the UK. The technology provides detailed insights into soil health through real-time data collection, allowing growers to implement more efficient practices. Paul-Tech hopes that this will improve yields and reduce environmental impact and outgoings.  

New research from Forest Trends has shown that buying carbon credits, including soil carbon credits, does not mean that global companies are taking no other steps to decarbonise. 59% of buyers in voluntary carbon markets experienced lower annual gross emissions, primarily due to reduced emissions and increased use of renewable energy. In contrast, only 33% of businesses not involved in carbon markets reported such reductions 

An article explains how we could use ancient genetic pathways to enable cereal crops to fix nitrogen. It explains that modern day crops are struggling to adapt to climate extremities, and that improving our understanding of the relationship between plant roots and soil microorganisms could lead to more resilient food systems. 

A new housing scheme in Leister has been blocked because soil was used to artificially raise the height of the flood level. Councillors and the Environment Agency ruled that the new housing scheme, which would be on a flood plain, could not be built because of the flood risk, and that the removal of trees created a ‘biodiversity desert’.  

Researchers from the University of Queensland have developed a new way to turn mine tailings into healthy soil. The use of specific microbes convert the organic matter and minerals in tailings into the building blocks of healthy soils, speeding up what would otherwise be a process that takes thousands of years.