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Soil Association calls for action to improve soil organic matter

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Staff writer ▼ | February 8, 2016
The Soil Association is releasing a new document calling on policy makers and farmers to do their bit to protect UK soils.
Soil protection   Important for protecting agricultural productivity
In 2014 researchers at the University of Sheffield estimated that the country will only see 100 more harvests if soil loss and degradation continues at its current rate.

The report "Seven Ways to Save our Soils" outlines seven key ways to increase soil organic matter (SOM) in UK arable and horticultural soils by 20% over the next 20 years.

The organic group began asking policy makers to commit to the 20 percent target in 2015, which the UN made its International Year of Soils. Soils are home to 25 percent of life on Earth, and scientists consider them a non-renewable resource due to the length of time it takes to rebuild healthy soil.

However, plans to develop an EU directive to give soils protection in line with other natural resources were delayed and then scrapped, largely due to the actions of a blocking minority of member state governments, including the UK’s.

Increasing SOM is not only important for protecting agricultural productivity: healthy soils are also better at locking up carbon, therefore helping mitigate climate change, and are more resilient to both floods and droughts.

They are more able to absorb excess rainfall and therefore have the potential to reduce flooding downstream. In turn, these effects all protect land from unpredictable weather events which are increasingly affecting farmers.