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Soil Care Network Newsletter

February 2018

by Anna Krzywoszyńska


  • Root microbiome critical to growth and health of plants

  • How fungi make nutrients available to the world

  • Gassy farm soils are a shockingly large source of air pollutants


  • A Ticking Time Bomb of Mercury Is Hidden Beneath Earth's Permafrost

  • A new class of antibiotics – named malacidins – has been discovered by researchers genetically screening microbes from crowdsourced soil samples


  • How is the global movement of humans, animals and wastes affecting geochemical cycles by changing the microbiome? We need collaboration between microbiologists and environmental scientists to find out, but the prognosis is not great


Editorials, blogs and opinion

  • An interesting article detailing the story behind the Healthy Soils Initiative in California  “Carbon farming, an agricultural movement taking root in Northern California, aims to improve the soil and help stabilize the climate.”


  • A good story of how scientific research can help farmers – by bolstering their claims with scientific proof “A climate-smart way to improve soil fertility”


Soils in the news


  • This is why when you talk about climate change, you can’t ignore agriculture. This article published in Washington Post highlighting the recently released paper “Soil Carbon debt of 12,000 years of human land use” provides a helpful overview of the positive role agriculture can play in addressing the climate threat. The original paper discusses how the historic loss of carbon indicates significant potential for restoring carbon to soil. It also focuses on the challenges in doing so.

Policy and social movements


  • FAO pushes on in its work on soil organic matter and soil organic carbon: Working group to produce a technical manual on Soil Organic Carbon management at the regional and sub-regional scale

  • Report by European Academies' Science Advisory Council "Negative emission technologies:  What role in meeting Paris Agreement targets?" has some sobering insights on the possible role for soils in carbon capture “some of the most technologically credible approaches involve increasing soil carbon and forest biomass, but we remain in an era where deforestation and soil degradation are continuing to addsubstantial quantities of GHGs. Clearly, as well as considering forests to remove substantially larger amounts of CO2, humanity needs to control the lossof forests, while stopping soil degradation and restoring soil carbon levels"

  • California Healthy Soils Programs Stalled by Budget Cuts. The Healthy Soils Program provides incentives and demonstration projects for soil management practices on farms and ranches that sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The program launched this summer with $7.5 million. Program funding was zeroed out for FY 2017-18 in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund budget bills. Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 5, a $4 billion bond measure, that provides important natural resources and sustainable agriculture funding. If approved by voters in June 2018, the bond measure would make a one-time allocation of $10 million for the Healthy Soils Program and $20 million for State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP)— two Climate Smart Agriculture programs that were cut in the recent climate investments budget deal. To go to Healthy Soils Program website, click here:

  • Monique Barbut, Under-Secretary General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) put consumers in the response to the soil health crisis. Every coin a consumer spends determines where investments by the private sector and governments go – either to land degrading ventures or towards good land use practices. Let’s not underestimate how our small individual decisions transform the world, so let’s choose wisely with our purchases

Outreach and publicity


  •  Video: why care about peatlands?



  • Global Symposium on Soil Pollution (GSOP18) will take place at FAO headquarters in Rome on 2 - 4 May, 2018. The Symposium aims to provide scientific evidence to support actions and decisions to prevent and reduce soil pollution for increased food safety, security and nutrition, and ecosystem services, while promoting the restoration of polluted sites.


  • The Thematic Scientific Conference of the International Geographic Union (IGU) “Practical Geography and XXI Century Challenges” dedicated to the Centennial of the Institute of Geography of Russian Academy of Sciences will take place on 4-6 June 2018 in Moscow, Russian Federation. Under the auspices of the UNCCD, the IGU Thematic Conference will serve as one of the important mechanisms for providing expert and scientific support for the implementation of the UNCCD strategic goals and related Sustainable Development Goals. 

  • At the end of October 2018 a new organisation Agroecology Forum is holding an interesting looking conference on agroecology in Lyon with a number of sessions of relevance to the science-practice interface on soils

  • 4-6 December, Australia, Sydney: Soil Security and Planetary Health Conference. 3rd Global Soil Security Conference, Call for papers will open at the end of March 2018.


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