The Group conducted an inquiry into soil health and protection in 2015/16, with particular focus on agriculture. The reports raise serious concerns about the state of UK soil, concluding with policy recommendations in the following key areas:
- Climate change: soil can act as both a carbon sink and emitter, but government policy does not go far enough to preserve soil quality and current incremental plans to improve agricultural performance are far from sufficient. Soils must be incorporated into the Government’s climate change strategy.
- Knowledge: it is not possible to study soil science below postgraduate level, often making soil the most neglected component of land use. Policymakers, farm businesses and advisers are less likely to consider soil as the cause or solution to a problem.
- Testing and data collection: the national picture on soil health is deplorably lacking, and there are currently no assessment plans, despite the Government commitment to ensure that all soils are managed sustainably by 2030.
- Farming methods: maize crops for energy use are often proving to be implicated in soil compaction and flooding. Policy must also encourage extensive farming over intensive farming, and business and political infrastructure surrounding our diverse farm sector must work harder to safeguard soil.
The panel of cross party MPs and Peers heard evidence over three oral sessions, with expert witnesses including NFU, Rothamstead Research Institute, the Soil Association and Cranfield University. The APPG have produced 4 reports