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27 October 2023

The first early Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) payments were made this week, aimed at helping improve cash flow by offering 25% of agreed payment upfront. The National Farmers Union (NFU) has called for improvements to be made to the application process to ensure agreements are substantiated, and to make the online application easier. 

The eighth round of Countryside Stewardship opened for applications this week, giving farmers and landowners the opportunity to bid for a portion of a £2.5 million fund allocated for initiatives aimed at enhancing biodiversity, water quality, and air quality.

The Environment Agency has warned UK farmers that crops are likely to have been damaged by recent flooding caused by Storm Babet. This has led to calls from unions for the government to implement a long term plan to improve water management, for which soil health is vital, and protect against future weather extremities. 

The meeting of the World Food Forum on Thursday of last week highlighted how improving soil health and avoiding degradation will play a vital role in addressing food insecurity and environmental challenges. The forum heard that crop yields could increase by 80% with proper soil, water, fertiliser and pesticide use, and called for the use of integrated technologies to be used to help improve soil health. 

Pasture for Life has been running free workshops across Scotland this week which explore soil health, demonstrate soil monitoring technology and explore regenerative approaches to farming. Regenerative coach Nicole Master demonstrated ‘10 Regen Indicators’ which attendees can use to experiment with different regenerative approaches. 

Plantsman Kevin Hobbs has written on the crops that we will likely be growing in the future as the climate changes. He writes that crops like sea buckthorn will benefit the soil, and that perennial vegetables may become easier to grow as they have longer to acclimatise to the soil, meaning they will become more resilient. 

A new study has shown that the presence of certain microbes found in soil could indicate the presence of diamonds below ground. A team of researchers from the University of British Columbia created a ‘fingerprint’ for kimberline, the common host matrix for diamonds, by studying how various soil microbes reacted with it. 

Actor and comedian Nick Offerman, in collaboration with the US Natural Resources Defence Council, has taken to Instagram to help promote better understandings of soil health, its carbon storing abilities, and the benefits of regenerative farming as part of a campaign to promote cover cropping in the next US Farm Bill.