Tag Archives: soils

Report says £10m a year needed to protect UK soils

A new report from WWF, The Rivers Trust and The Angling Trusts claims that spending approximately £10 million a year on soil protection measures in the UK would ensure a future for agriculture and reverse the decline of the 86 per cent of rivers that are currently classed as unhealthy.

WWF claims that up to a third of farmers are currently not complying with England’s water protection laws; which has led to widespread soil degradation, pollution of rivers, increased flood risk, and higher costs for local authorities and water bill payers.

The report’s authors say that creating a properly funded, locally coordinated farm advice service is needed to help farmers care for the environment while maintaining crop productivity. It estimated the cost for effective enforcement and advice in England as being about £10 million per year. It points out that this is a fraction of the current £2 billion provided under the Common Agricultural Policy.

Tony Juniper, Executive Director of Advocacy and Campaigns at WWF, said, “We have a once in a life time opportunity to create and support the nature we want to live in. We could have a farming system that contributes to a healthier planet. But to do that, we have to think locally, by restoring our wildlife and stopping agricultural run-off polluting our rivers. We need to not only put in place the right legislation and protections, but we must have robust enforcement or else we will waste this unique occasion.”

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The post Report says £10m a year needed to protect UK soils appeared first on Hort News on 26 April 2018.

Farmers to get soil health targets

Civil servants have revealed that the Government’s agricultural bill, which is expected to be published later this year, will include measures and targets to maintain and improve soil health.

However, comments made by Environment Secretary Michael Gove which suggest support could be prioritised or limited to those who practice min- or no-till cultivations have caused anger amongst farmers.

Rebecca Pow, parliamentary private secretary, told The Guardian that the bill would include regulation to meet the targets recent set out in the 25-year Environment Plan. “Healthy soil is essential, and there are ways of measuring it, such as the organic matter in the soil. Farmers can be given incentives to improve soil management, such as by crop rotation. It has taken a long time but I think we have turned the corner on getting soil on the political agenda,” she said.

However, speaking at an event in London last week, Michael Gove said the government would support reduced tillage. “We have to move away from our current system, which lacks effective incentives for long-term-thinking, to one that promotes investment in our shared future,” he said. “That will mean we pay farmers to improve the quality and fertility of their soil… “We want to reverse the trends of the past which have led to compaction and run-off, and which have polluted our rivers and choked our fish.”

Although lacking in details, many farmers have expressed concerns on social media that minimal tillage techniques are not suitable for all soils or crops and that any future approach needs to be flexible enough to reflect this.

Photo Credit: pxhere

The post Farmers to get soil health targets appeared first on Hort News on 21 March.

Twin partnerships to address soil health

Soils are fundamental to almost all forms of crop production, so adopting a rotational approach to soil health makes sense. That’s why AHDB has funded a five-year programme of research and knowledge exchange into key aspects of soil health as part of the GREATsoils programme. With the first information gathering reports published, the work is now moving into the next phase – Experiments and on-farm trials designed to answer key questions raised by farmers and growers about how they can practically improve soil health in their own fields. Read more…

Changing Climate Changes Soils

In a new study, Australian researchers have used digital techniques to predict how soil organic carbon may be altered by climate change.

“Soil organic carbon is a major determinant of soil health,” says Jonathan Gray, senior scientist at New South Wales Office of Environment & Heritage, who was the lead author of the study. “It influences many chemical, physical, and biological properties of the soil, such as fertility and water holding capacity.”

The researchers used 12 climate change models to predict how soil organic carbon levels vary with climate change. The models used in the study reflected a full range of projected global climate outcomes. Results were varied. “A majority of models showed a decline in soil organic carbon with climate change,” states Gray. “But a few of the models actually predicted an increase.”

The researchers also discovered that the extent to which soil organic carbon changes varied across soil types, current climate, and land use regimes. For example, the projected average decline of soil organic carbon was less than one ton per hectare for sandy, low-fertility soils in dry conditions under cropping regimes. It was 15 times as much for clay-rich, fertile soils in wet conditions under native vegetation regimes.

“This knowledge can help us to better understand and predict where the greatest potential losses or gains in soil carbon may occur,” says Gray. “It would allow us to better prepare for and adapt to altered soil conditions,” he says. “That would ultimately improve how we manage both agricultural and native ecosystems.”

Photo Caption: Jonathan Gray collecting soil carbon data in the field, Hawkesbury Region, NSW (D. King, OEH)

Photo Credit: D. King, Office of Environment and Heritage.

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New soil seminar announced

Howesman Agriculture and New Generation Agriculture have teamed up to present a new seminar on soil health for UK farmers.

The two-day event, titled: Soil Health and Your Wealth, will be held in Peterborough on 9th and 10th February 2016. Hosted by leading crop nutrition expert and speaker Graeme Sait, the topics covered include, ‘soil health, plant health and animal health. More recently, that emphasis has expanded to include planetary health, in recognition of the link between humus and carbon sequestration. He is also an expert in human nutrition and his fascinating presentations cover every aspect of wellness.’

Proprietor of Howesman Agriculture, Andrew Howseman, commented, “Last year Graeme gave a TEDxNoosa speech in America last year which has generated global interest in Humus. This really is the best £150 you will spend in February.”

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Soil Association calls for improvements to soil health

The Soil Association wrote to the reappointed Defra Minister of State, Liz Truss, last month calling on her to establish a long-term plan to protect and improve UK soils.

The organisation also called on her to set a target to increase soil organic matter by 20% over the next 20 years. In her letter, Soil Association Chief Executive Helen Browning said, “As you will know, soils are vital to maintaining and lifting our productive capacity, as a habitat for 25% of all known species and in improving our resilience to climate change.  Improving soil health requires a vision and understanding beyond the here and now, and so the start of a new term of office for the Government coinciding with the FAO’s International Year of Soils suggests that there has never been a better opportunity to establish a long term plan to improve our soils.”

As part of its Year of Soils the UN-backed Save Our Soils initiative has launched an ‘I Like Organic’ campaign on Facebook. According to the group, for every ‘like’ that the page receives, €5 from the Save Our Soils initiative will be released, enough to save 500m² of fertile soil.

Campaign founder Volkert Engelsman said: “With every ‘like’, financial support can be provided to help educate and support growers in developing sustainable farming practices and in saving soil fertility through the use of organic techniques.”

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