UK to set goal of restoring soil health by 2030

healthy soil
CC BY 2.0 NRCS

Incredibly, this appears to be the first time the government has really tried to tackle this crucial issue nationwide.

Michael Gove, the UK's Secretary of State for the Environment hinted at this in his 'Green Brexit' speech, but Rebecca Pow, parliamentary private secretary to environment ministers, appears to have confirmed to The Guardian that the upcoming agricultural bill to be published later this year will include a specific segment on soil health, and is likely to set a nationwide goal of restoring degraded soils across the country by 2030.

The specifics of what that means are still being ironed out, but the bill is likely to include soil health targets for soil health for farmers, as well as incentives for soil-friendly practices like crop rotation, cover crops, and the planting of hedgerows, wind breaks and other natural guards against erosion.

While claims that carbon sequestration in soils could literally solve global warming should be taken with a very big pinch of salt, there's no doubt that our current regime of intensive, chemical dependent agriculture has depleted soils and increased emissions. Not only would reversing this decline help draw some of the excess carbon out of the atmosphere, but it would also help mitigate the impacts of climate change by reducing flooding, increasing food production, and preventing runoff into rivers and streams.

So this is a very good thing in theory. We now just have to wait and see what the details of the proposed policies are.

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