Soil Care Network Newsletter
July 2021
by Anna Krzywoszynska, in collaboration with Emma Lietz Bilecky,  Thirze Hermans, and Michiel van de Pavert

Soil Research

  • This study of no-tillage in Indiana argues that no-till is appealing for many producers as a soil conservation strategy which does not challenge the values of industrial farming.

  • Farmer’s engagements with soils through learning create a feeling of kinship and connection to the natural world which contributes to a change in farming systems towards regenerative agriculture, this paper from Australia confirms.

  • We already know that microplastics in soils are bad news (have you heard the term “plastiphere”?); this new research finds that microplastics also offer a breeding ground for fungi which can be detrimental to human, animal and plant health.

  • What contribution has soil science made to key policy challenges so far, and how can this contribution be strengthened? This paper provides a review, focusing especially on climate change, food security, water security, urban development, and ecosystem functioning and biodiversity.

  • Why do some farming sectors carry out soil testing more readily than others? This paper looks into this question, as well as arguing for a knowledge and innovation rather than regulatory approach to enhance uptake of soil testing.

  • A new study creates “cyborg” soil environments, using microchips to perceive underground soil processes that are altered when soil is removed from its environment.

Soil policies

Soil stories and editorials

  • You may already know the great podcast series Farmerama. Their ‘Re-storying the landscape’ series starts with an important provocation: ‘A family farm is a colonial construct’, and goes on to explore the relation between land as commons and indigenous farming practices in the Scottish Highlands.

  • At the same time, the scientific conversation about the fate of carbon in soils - crucial to the question of carbon sequestration - continues, with the idea of immobilising carbon permanently being challenged by recent research into the activity of soil bacteria. This interesting editorial offers a good overview of the debates. 

Soil innovations, courses and events

  • Schumacher College in Devon has a brand new BSc program called Regenerative Food and Farming, which gives students the opportunity to explore leading-edge alternatives to mainstream agricultural practices and food systems. You can learn more here.