News Sustain

Soil health in crisis - parliamentary committee urges government action

On World Soil Day, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Select Committee has released its report aimed at addressing the critical state of soil health in the UK. Soil, essential for life and food production, faces severe degradation in the UK due to overuse, erosion, and pollution. EFRA's report calls for immediate government action, stressing the need to treat soil health with the same seriousness as air and water quality.

Compost. Credit: Sippakorn Yamkasikorn  | Pexels

Compost. Credit: Sippakorn Yamkasikorn | Pexels

 

The key recommendations of the report were:

  • Statutory targets for soil health by 2028: The committee emphasised the need for agreement and clarity on how to measure and monitor soil health. Agreed upon indicators should then be used to set statutory targets aimed at improving soil health to bring it in line with the targets already in place for air and water.
  • Environmental Land Management (ELM) schemes as a tool for soil health: With agricultural activities covering 70% of England's land, ELM schemes are identified as the main vehicle for improving soil management. The EFRA Committee calls for increased accessibility and attractiveness to farmers, recommending a budget increase to reflect the environmental benefits they bring. It is recommended that government should aim for nearly all of agricultural land to be in an ELM scheme by 2040, guided by clear definitions of "sustainable soil management."
  • A regulatory framework for soil health by 2035: The Committee reccomended that alongside the incentives for improving soil health, there should be an agreed upon regulatory framework aimed to prevent soil degradation and contamination across all sectors.

Will White, Sustainable Farming Coordinator at Sustain said:

"Our soils are not only the very foundation of our food system today, they are also a habitat for almost incomprehensible biodiversity. The report's sobering statistic - that soil waste makes up 58% of the UK's landfill content - speaks volumes about our current regard for this precious resource. We wholeheartedly endorse the call for an increased budget for Environmental Land Management (ELM) schemes to pay farmers adequately for investing in the health of our soils."

The full report is available here

 

Published Tuesday 5 December 2023

Sustain: Sustain The alliance for better food and farming advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, enrich society and culture and promote equity.

Latest related news

Support our charity

Donate to enhance the health and welfare of people, animals and the planet.

Donate

Sustain
The Green House
244-254 Cambridge Heath Road
London E2 9DA

020 3559 6777
sustain@sustainweb.org

Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.

© Sustain 2024
Registered charity (no. 1018643)
Data privacy & cookies

Sustain