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Government challenged over commitment to soil recovery

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A campaign group has called for further detail on the Government’s plan for sustainably managed soils.

Expert stakeholders have given a cautious welcome to the Government’s ambition to achieve “sustainably managed soils” by 2030 but challenged it to provide as a matter of urgency additional detail in terms of the legislation, incentives and investment in education, research and innovation needed to turn this ambition into a reality.

The 2030 target is contained within A Green Future, the Government’s 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment, the strategy document that was the subject of a debate held earlier today in Portcullis House hosted by the Sustainable Soils Alliance and DEFRA PPS and committed ambassador for soils in Parliament, Rebecca Pow MP.

The event heard contributions from a broad range of experts from farming, industry, NGOs and academia, as well as MPs and representatives from DEFRA.

Neville Fay, founder of the Sustainable Soils Alliance, commented: “We are facing a soil crisis. UK soils have degraded. In areas that face a declining tipping point, this will have serious consequences for future generations.”

Tony Juniper, Executive Director of Campaigns at WWF, added: “The 25 Year Environment Plan promises a new land management scheme and the first ever policy on UK soils. As with all new policies, it must achieve the right blend of regulations and incentives, and be underpinned by robust enforcement in order to protect soils and tackle farm pollution.“

And Ben Raskin, Head of Horticulture at the Soil Association, continued: “Three practical ways for Government to demonstrate the commitment to soil health [in the 25 Year Environment Plan] would be to include soil organic matter in the new mandatory soil testing rules, fully recognise the contribution that more organic farming would make to agricultural soils, and ensure agroforestry becomes a mainstream farming practice across the UK.”

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