We’ve heard lots in the press about the damaging effect of plastic waste on our oceans or the impact of deforestation but what about soil? Soil is our life support system – it provides anchorage for roots, holds waterand nutrients but sadly it’s also under threat.
With a background in farming, we know too well the importance of healthy soil and we’re keen to help raise awareness on World Soil Day – the 5th December. This day is celebrated annually to focus attention on this subject and to advocate for the sustainable management of soil resources.
Why is soil under threat?
Our soils are under threat from climate changes and ever more intensive agriculture. As the layer of fertile topsoil thins, it gets increasingly difficult to grow crops for food and this is becoming a global issue. Especially when given that rebuilding soil fertility and structure through the addition of organic matter can take decades of practice.
Rainfall events cause widespread erosion on unprotected or damaged soils, loss of soil nutrients and carbon, reduced crop growth and pollution of our rivers and streams. With extreme weather predicted to get worse this will become a pressing issue.
Intensive farm practices such as tilling can also destroy the natural soil structure as well as the living flora and fauna present within the ecosystem which are vital for soil health and drainage.
In the UK, farming practices are changing to address this. Only this week, the Government outlined it’s seven-year plan to phase out paying subsidies to farmers based on how much land they own. Instead, farmers will receive money for improving productivity and the environment.
How can farmers protect their soils?
Farmers can protect their soils from extreme weather by minimising tillage or direct drilling as well as establishing cover crops to ensure soil is not left bare and vulnerable over winter months.
By installing/maintaining a good land drainage system, farmers can also help protect their soil to ensure wet spots and nutrient run-off doesn’t occur, damaging the soil. Not having healthy, well-drained soil can lead to crop yields diminishing so it’s essential to keep soil in tip-top condition.
Read our blog on how to improve soil quality in farming here: https://www.cotterillcivils.co.uk/blog/farming/how-to-improve-the-quality-of-your-soil/
Read our blog on how you can protect soil from extreme weather here for more information: https://www.cotterillcivils.co.uk/blog/farming/how-farmers-can-protect-soil-from-extreme-weather/