‘Are we looking after our soils?’
As soon as you enter the House of Commons you get a buzz. There are lots of people engaged in conversation and the sense of being at the centre of government is palpable. The further you enter into the myriad of rooms you can understand the huge expense that will be involved in any refurbishment.
We are in committee room 19, but there are many other meetings indicated on the display boards and you realise the difficulty any campaign will have making an impact. The presentations go down really well; I focus on the biological variability of soils and the problems of establishing robust soil health indicators as well as introducing the Soil Security Programme. Jack Hennan from Cranfield University describes the physical variability of soils and the limitations of national monitoring. The final speaker is Helen Browning from the Soil Association who presents seven ways we can improve soils.
After drinks about twenty of us have a sit down dinner and Stephen Metcalfe MP the Chairman of the Parliamentary and Science Committee opens the debate ‘Are we looking after our soil’. After 30 minutes of vigorous conversation where a number of soil threats are highlighted (e.g. growing unsuitable crops such as maize, the problems of sustainable management associated with short term tenancies), we search for a single action to recommend. A commitment to increase organic matter in arable fields by 20% is proposed by Helen Browning. While we can all see pitfalls in this we recognise it as a clear ambition that will have a beneficial outcome.
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Visit the Soil Security Programme website