Soil Care Network Newsletter
September 2022
by Thirze Hermans in collaboration with Anna Krzywoszynska, Michiel van de Pavert, and Emma Lietz Bilecky

 

Soils & Research

This recent paper looks at contemporary soil health movements in India: the Zero Budget Natural Farming, and the Soil Health Card. It argues that the ZBNF is performing a shift in expertise towards farmers as experimenters, and an opening of a space for new epistemes of soil health.

This study found a shift in microbial communities in warm tropical soils, with microbial diversity declining under warmer conditions.

Soil temperature can be used to effectively monitor and predict the spread of the corn earworm (Helicoverpa zea), a pest that ravages corn, cotton, soybeans, peppers, tomatoes and other vegetable crops.

Soil microbiota can boost the growth of invasive plant species and provide defence against herbivores 

World Soil Day

 

The theme for the 2022 World Soil Day has been announced by the FAO’s Global Soil Partnership. The slogan is ‘soil, where food begins’ to emphasise the role of soil for food production and nutrition.

Soils Mapping & Status

A new initiative by the Global Soil Partnership has now been launched with the aim of mapping the national status of soil nutrients and nutrient budgets. The product is called GSNmap and will be available by the end of this year.

EU has released a new report on the EU soil carbon status and potential. EU members reported a loss of soil carbon of about 108 Megatonnes of carbon dioxide (Mt CO2) emissions. The EU land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector is a significant carbon sink that removes CO2 from the atmosphere. However, there are large differences between countries because of the size of the country, how the land is used and the type of soils.

The combination of drought impacts on soils in combination with high gas prices could lead to food shortage this winter. The lack of rainfall has led to continued hard soils, also in the key sowing period of September.

This article in Grist magazine (environment focused) suggests that more attention needs to be paid to the use of perennial wheat over the annual wheat varieties. In particular for the restoration of soil and carbon sequestration, where perennials wheat can be better in increasing carbon stocks and storing it deeper in the soils. 

Soils & Policy

The overhaul of farm subsidies for environmental work named the Environmental Land Management Schemes, is reviewed by the government. This has raised concerns with environmental groups and some farmers, who fear a watering down of the overhaul.

Ahead of the 2023 US farm bill law, various advocates are lobbying to ensure farmers can improve soil health through actions such as cover crops, fertiliser reduction and less tillage. 

Soil Space & Building

Chinese scientists discover evidence of volcanic activity in lunar soil.

Researchers have suggested Martian soil could serve as a 3D-printing material meaning it could be used to manufacture items on the Red Planet.  This would help with staying longer on the planet or decreasing the load that needs to be brought with travelling to Mars.

Scientists at the University of Virginia, have used 3D printing to create soil wall structures, enabling plants to grow on walls.