Recognising that healthy soils are important for food production and human wellbeing, the UK Environmental Audit Committee recently launched an inquiry into soil health. The inquiry asks what role should soil health play in the government’s upcoming 25 year plan for the natural environment?

In 2009, a government report estimated the scale of soil loss at 2.2 million tonnes per year in the UK, costing British farmers £9 million in lost production. However, despite a strategy to tackle the worst of soil degradation by 2030 and offer best practice advice for farmers, growers and land managers, the government has not provided sufficient measures to make real and lasting change.

Charities, academic institutions and experts have responded to this opportunity by contributing evidence, each approaching soil health from slightly different angles. The Sustainable Food Trust’s response emphasised the need to shift to assessing soil biological properties, as well as concerns over converting grassland to cropland and use of ammonium-based fertilisers and glyphosate. Our full submission can be accessed here.

Photograph: USDA

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