Soil Care Network Newsletter

May 2020

by Anna Krzywoszyńska

 

Research and projects

  • Fascinating insights into the relationship between graziers and soils is coming from this long-term study of the ecological effects of wildlife and commercial grazing on savannahs. It finds that elephants are powerful soil stewards, as their grazing, pooping, and tree-knocking habits contribute to soil organic matter stocks. Co-existence of wildlife and low-stocking commercial grazing may be a good idea from the soil point of view, with elephants compensating for the loss of soil fertility due to commercial herds (which are locked up during the night, and so do not return nutrients to the soils).

  • Acceleration of global warming due to methane released from the melting permafrost is a serious worry. Modelling its impacts needs to include, however, activity of methane-consuming microbes, which may help to lower overall methane emissions from these sites.

  • Rising temperatures due to anthropogenic climate change may help soil-borne crop pathogens, and exacerbate the dangers to food production, this new research suggests

  • China has now over 60 years of experience in regenerating desertified lands. This article looks at what lessons can be learned from their experience.

  • Covering soils in plastic can boost crop yields in the short term – but the accumulation of plastic in soils in the longer term has such negative effects that full recovery of plastic waste from soil is absolutely crucial. An interesting contribution to overall thinking around plastics in soil.

  • A soil ethnography, Kristina Lyon’s ‘Vital Decompositions’, was just published with Duke University Press. Lyons’ work follows state soil scientists and peasants across labs, greenhouses, forests, and farms to show how the study and stewardship of the soil point to alternative frameworks for living and dying.

  • Lesley Green's new book 'Rock | Water | Life' looks unflinchingly at the interwoven realities of inequality, racism, colonialism, and environmental destruction in South Africa; the politics and sciences of soils feature prominently.

  • The Royal Society has published a report examining the relationship between soil structure and its benefits to biodiversity, agricultural productivity, clean water and flood prevention and climate change mitigation. The report also describes how soil structure can be measured and what interventions a land manager can make to promote good soil structure.

Soil policy and social movements

  • Forum for the Future has released a report exploring the barriers and opportunities to scale regenerative agriculture in the US. You can access their report Growing our Future here, and attend a webinar on the subject on 25 June.

  • Argentina is the world’s 3rd biggest producer of soybeans, and these monocultures have significantly degraded its soils. A growing movement towards agroecology is however emerging.

 

Markets and technology

 

  • The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations have launched RECSOIL, which links land management and aviation to off-set emissions through soil carbon sequestration, as their recent webinar explains

Soil essays and long reads

  • Even challenging landscapes can be transformed through soil regeneration, as this case study of regenerative almond growing from Southern Spain demonstrates - an inspiring story.

  • Regenerative farming is enchanting the world of fashion – it is now in Vogue ;)

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