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25 November 2022

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has asked the Defra Secretary of State, Theresa Coffey, to immediately publish long-term targets on the environment and action plans for key resources. This includes the call for the release of a National Action Plan on Pesticides, which would affect how agriculture produces food in the long term and its impact on soils. 

Global fertiliser firms have made record profits in the face of the energy crisis and the impacts of the conflict in Ukraine. A report by GRAIN and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) conclude that the biggest fertiliser companies will make $57 billion in profit this year, four times that of 2020. GRAIN also argues there is a need to move away from synthetic fertiliser due to its damaging impacts on soils.

A soil carbon sequestration project on the Northern Kenyan rangelands was presented at COP27 as a model that could be rolled out globally to help mitigate and adapt to climate change. Carbon credits have been sold for a 2 million hectare area, with satellites used to monitor the growth of vegetation and plants to see the impacts of grazing on the soils and the land. 

The Chairman of the PepsiCo Foundation writes about how businesses can help scale up regenerative agriculture. He highlights that regenerative agriculture seeks to support the world to remain within the 1.5C threshold by building soil health and fertility. Businesses can enable greater take up of regenerative agriculture through providing cost-sharing programs and advocating changes in tax incentives to encourage a transition.

A report by the UN Environment Programme has taken a look at the global state of peatlands. It notes the importance of peat soils in storing carbon, with them only covering 3-4% of the world’s land surface but storing a third of the world’s soil carbon. Concerns have been raised that 12% of global peatlands are degraded and 2,000 megatons of CO2 is being released annually by degraded peatlands. 

Research has been undertaken to understand the potential of iron tailings (waste from iron ore production) to reclaim farmland soils. The research was aimed at trying to make more farmland available in China with the demand on land and food security increasing. It was concluded that iron tailings do have the potential to be applied to farmland soils and beneficial to soil health and crop yields. 

Oliver Scott, a teenager in the UK is cycling 900 miles with the aim of raising awareness of soil health, as part of a Save Soil Campaign. Scott is cycling across the UK and Ireland as part of a Cycle for Soil campaign, and will be stopping at farms, universities and organisations supporting soil health.