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SoilTalk 4
“Soil health : a new buzzword or a new paradigm?"

Soil health has become a popular concept in debates about farming, as well as land and environmental management more broadly. While more and more groups and individuals seem to engage with this concept, urgent debates are going on within the scientific community about the precise nature of ‘soil health’, and its usefulness as a concept relating to specific measurable outcomes. 


In this soil talk we invited a panel of experts to discuss: is soil health a promising rallying point for different interests around soil conservation, or is it an empty buzzword? In what contexts does soil health need to be defined, and are we on the way to achieving this? How can we create a dialogue around soil health between different interest groups to ensure we work towards the same objectives?


The event was co-organised by the Soil Care Network and

It was chaired by Anna Krzywoszynska of the Institute for Sustainable Food at the University of Sheffield, Soil Care Network, and Thirze Hermans from the University of Leeds.


Prof. Johannes Lehmann

Johannes Lehmann, Liberty Hyde Bailey professor of soil biogeochemistry and soil fertility management at Cornell University, received his graduate degrees in Soil Science at the University of Bayreuth, Germany. His research focuses on nano-scale investigations of soil organic matter, the biogeochemistry of pyrogenic carbon and sequestration in soil, sustainable soil management, climate change, and the circular economy. Dr. Lehmann is a member of the steering group of the International Soil Carbon Network, has testified in the US congress, and briefed the President’s council of advisors. Dr. Lehmann has authored more than 250 journal publications, has been named Highly-Cited Researcher by Thomson Reuter since 2014, is member of the German National Academy of Sciences (Leopoldina) and Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America, he was named Humboldt Fellow and Hans-Fischer Senior Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Studies at the Technical University of Munich. You can learn more about Johannes' work here.


Joel Williams 

Joel Williams is an independent consultant and plant and soil health educator who has worked in Australia, UK and Canada where he is currently based. He has a keen interest in plant nutrition and plant and soil microbiomes and how these may support the development of low input production systems. Joel has a passion for teaching and sharing a combination of academic and practical information and has lectured to farming audiences internationally. You can learn more about Joel's work here.


Dr Richard Smith

Dr Richard Smith has been working for the Environment Agency as a soil technical specialist for the last 30 yrs. Work has mainly been field based supporting EA operational staff, partners and land managers. Richard also provides technical support for national and local government. 

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