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Soil Care Network Newsletter

January 2018

by Anna Krzywoszyńska


  • LUCAS: How the largest European soil dataset was born. “While several new exciting soil parameters will be measured in the next survey, there is particular interest is the collection of data on soil biodiversity so that they can be integrated with land use information and the soil properties, such as texture, pH, organic carbon and nitrogen content, measured so far. "This will make LUCAS SOIL the first ever pan-European assessment of soil biodiversity and one of the largest continental assessments of soil life at global scale. It is extremely exciting as it represents a unique opportunity to develop baseline maps of soil biodiversity at European scale. It also represents a great opportunity to finally contribute to and realise a global soil biodiversity assessment," said JRC soil scientist Alberto Orgiazzi.”

  • Groundbreaking first ‘soil atlas’ reveals most common bacterial across the world’s soils  “With the world’s soils home to common bacterial species, we can more closely predict how those dominant bacteria are influencing the way that those soils function.”      see more detail on this story here and here

  • Opinion: Why we need a National Living Soil Repository “A National Living Soil Repository would store agricultural cryogenic and air-dried soil samples, analyze samples for microbial community composition, assess samples for microbial viability, and serve as a potential source of living organisms for various agricultural ecosystem services.”


  • Looking into biocrusts to understand microbial metabolism “These biocrusts and other soil microbiomes contain a tremendous diversity of both microbes and small molecules ('metabolites'). However, the connection between the chemical diversity of soil and microbial diversity is poorly understood”


  • “A bacterium that lives in soil creates molecules that can kill "the most dangerous form of skin cancer," Oregon State University researches said Thursday.”


  • In antarctic dry valleys, early signs of climate change-induced shifts in soil


  • Research Shows Plant-Microbe Interactions Affect Plant Abundance On Landscape


  • Soil holds potential to slow global warming, Stanford researchers find


  • Earth’s skin is an interdisciplinary laboratory – Critical Zone Observatories


  • Strangest things: fossils reveal how fungus shaped life on Earth



  • Researchers reveal how microbes cope in phosphorus-deficient tropical soil


Editorials, blogs and opinion

  • The seven deadly things we’re doing to trash the planet (and human life with it)

  • The rise of ‘big data’ in agriculture

  • How Dirt Could Save Humanity From an Infectious Apocalypse


  • Innovative Food Waste to Soil Scheme Launches in Toronto


  • Is There A Ticking Time Bomb Under The Arctic?


Soils in the news


  • A lack of soil testing sites causes problems for Indian farmers


  • E-waste contaminating Delhi’s groundwater and soil

Policy and social movements


  • Michael Gove, the UK minister for food and environment, announced that after Brexit (in 2024) the Common Agricultural Policy payments will be replaced by a “system of public money for public goods. The principal public good we will invest in is environmental enhancement.” Soil conservation likely to play an important role here – begging questions about appropriate measurement of soil qualities to support ‘improvement’

  • The National Trust in the UK published this interesting thought experiment on monetising good soil and water management. “This report, produced with the National Trust, develops the Natural Infrastructure Scheme (NIS) concept, which we first proposed in 2016. The NIS mechanism creates a market for environmental improvements which funds sustainable practices. In the case studied in this report, we look at the potential to use the scheme to improve soil and water quality in the Anglian river basin.  Our example assesses how the approach could work to complement regulation and reduce concentrations of nitrates in groundwater, while improving the soil. In this case study, land management services are purchased from a consortium of participating farmers by a group of buyers, which include the local water company and businesses from the food and drink sector.”

  • The Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the UK released it’s new 25 year plan, which features soil issues. The focus is soil assessment and peatland conservation & restoration. The plan calls for “good nutrient management practices” in soil management and pledges to create “meaningful metrics” to assess soil improvements and “develop cost-effective and innovative ways to monitor soil at farm and national level” by developing a “soil health index”. The conceptual framework being embraced is ‘natural capital’: “we will use natural capital thinking to develop appropriate soil metrics and management approaches”

Outreach and publicity


  •  A great video on soil organic carbon: Soil Organic Carbon: keystone to sustainability in a changing world

Soil art and literature


  • Beautiful poetry about British soil and land from Adam Horovitz “The soil never sleeps”


  • Young, Anthony 2017 Thin on the Ground: Soil Science in the Tropics Second revised edition, xiv + 350 pages with 38 photographs. Published by Land Resources Books, Norwich, UK. ISBN-10: 0995656606

  • Bal Ram Singh et al. (Eds.) 2018 The Nexus of Soils, Plants, Animals and Human Health, GeoEcology essays, ISBN 978-3-510-65417-8


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