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8 December 2023

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee have published a report summarising their year-long inquiry into soil health in England. The committee calls out the government for lacking ‘leadership and focus’ on soils, and makes a number of recommendations for improvement which include the need for a regulatory framework for soils, more ambitious Environmental Land Management schemes (ELMs), and committed funding for soil monitoring. 

World Soil Day was celebrated on December 5th, with the official ceremony held by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on the theme of Soil and Water: A Source of Life, along with a host of other events held by various organisations. The Soil Association encouraged people to share a #WormsEyeView photo on social media to raise awareness of the importance of soil. 

The British Society of Soil Science (BSSS) held their annual conference in Belfast this week, with this year’s theme focusing on soil management and monitoring. The conference brought together soil scientists, policy makers, academics and NGOs to discuss monitoring activities being led by each of the UK’s nations, and current research and developments in soil science. 

Ahead of COP’s first ever day dedicated to food and agriculture, 130+ governments have supported a pledge to reduce the environmental impact of food systems. The declaration includes a commitment to ‘protecting and restoring soils and ecosystems’ to ensure future food security. King Charles highlighted the connection between the climate crisis and ecological breakdown in his opening speech, and pointed to the need for financial reform in support of nature. 

Scottish soil carbon measurement company Agricarbon has announced £9 million in funding from investors which include Shell and Barclays. The money will be used to meet current client demand and increase international expansion, unlocking the estimated $175 billion market for soil carbon removals. 

Soil has been used to protect a Norfolk road from flooding. A 1.5m soil wall has been built at the bottom of fields next to the road after it flooded multiple times in the space of a few weeks. Known as ‘bunding’, the compacted soil wall will limit soil erosion and hold water to help prevent further flooding. 

Community collective Bristol Living Soil is working to regenerate the city’s soils through food waste composting. Their local compost collectives will gather food waste and turn it into compost for local growers, keeping nutrients and energy within the local food system. This week, they hosted a workshop teaching residents how to make the biochar which is used in the composting system. 

Welsh farming advisory service, Farming Connect, is investigating the role of hedges in soil carbon storage. The Welsh Soil Project is in its second year, and this year soil samples are being taken from near hedges to compare carbon stocks with soils from within fields. It is hoped that the results will help inform actions for on farm climate change mitigation.