“60 Harvests left: True, False, or Missing the Point?”
The claim that our soils only have a limited number of harvests in them has become the call to arms for the soil health cause, the slogan chosen by campaigners, scientists, and even Environment Ministers to distill soil down to a single, simple, memorable and urgent message.
But what is the evidence to support this claim? And is it even the right question? Does it help or hinder our understanding of the state of our soils, and so contribute to unlocking the changes in farming practice needed to guarantee long-term soil health and productivity?
You can watch the recording of the debate here.
Dan’s passion for soils research germinated in 2012 when he studied mobile debris lobes in Alaska during a Royal Geographical Society Scholarship. Since then, he has been working on various aspects of soil science; he produced the first globally-relevant estimates of soil lifespans. His research has featured in The Conversation, on BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today, and Farmer’s Weekly. He is based at Cranfield Unviersity.
You can learn more about Daniel's work here.
In my work, I have sought to integrate several scientific disciplines (Ecology, Biogeography, Agronomy, Archeology and Anthropology) to be able to produce interdisciplinary works, in large scale, and broad social interest. I am currently a postdoctoral researcher in the Graduate Program in Ecology at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC), with the objective of knowing the cultural dimension present in the forests of South America and planning strategies for the use, management and conservation of native vegetation based on ancient and scientific ecological knowledge.
You can learn more about Carolina's work here.
Simon Cowell won the 2018 Soil farmer of The Year competition organised by Farm Carbon Cutting Toolkit and Innovation for Agriculture. He started getting interested in soil and its biology twenty years ago and has been improving his heavy clay soils by stopping all tillage, making and applying highly biologically active compost and building mycorrhizal fungi populations.
You can learn more about Simon's work here.
As background to the debate you may want to have a look at these online resources: