World Soil Day – 5th December 2023
World Soil Day (December 5th) focuses attention on soil health and how this impacts our everyday lives.
The Earth’s soil contains more than three times the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and four times the amount stored in all living plants and animals, meaning without healthy soils, we can’t achieve a healthy planet. The British Society of Soil Science emphasises that healthy soil is not only key to food security, but also plays a crucial role in mitigating climate change. Soil acts as a carbon sink, helping to offset the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions.
Here in the GSA Biosphere as everywhere else, soil supports our ecosystems, agriculture and the overall wellbeing of the region. As understanding of the importance of healthy soil grows, more and more projects and partners are working proactively to share learning and support soil health, and make a positive difference for food production and biodiversity locally. The Dumfries and Galloway Sustainable Food Partnership runs a Soil Health Group for farmers and landowners within the award-winning SW Scotland Regenerative Farming Network, empowering members with greater knowledge on soil health and how to take the next steps towards regenerative farming practice. D&G Sustainable Food Partnership is coordinated by Propagate, a worker-led collective specialising in local, community and sustainable food projects, with public and third sector partners including the GSA Biosphere. The Soil Health Group uses the Soilmentor platform and meet to discuss and find opportunities to learn more about soil and regenerative farming. New members are welcome at any time; click here to find out more.
There are roughly 178,000 farmers working in the UK who manage 71% of the UK’s land, providing half of the food we eat. In very simple terms, intensive farming practices can contribute to soil degradation, biodiversity loss and climate change, whereas regenerative farming practice, within an agroecological system, can promote healthier soils, provide healthier food, restore biodiversity and sequester carbon. With the interconnection between soil health, agriculture and the broader environment it’s becoming increasingly important to understand the soil used for growing and grazing and where possible to adopt an agroecological style of farming that balances the needs of plants, wildlife, livestock and people. Biosphere Proud Supporters The Galloway Food Hub looks to help achieve this balance through supporting sustainable food producers across the region. By providing an accessible marketplace stocking local, sustainable food, consumers are able to buy the produce knowing that they are supporting businesses who are caring for the soil and wider environment in which they farm. For those wanting to find out more about the benefits of healthy soil, and how a shift in farming practices can help, a documentary Six Inches of Soil is being released early next year. It follows three young farmers on their journey towards regenerative farming, with guidance and knowledge from experts in the field. Find out more and watch the trailer here.
For anyone interested in exploring regenerative farming practice and finding out more about soil health, the GSA Biosphere is holding a conference in partnership with Propagate and the National Farmers Union Scotland on 15th February 2024. Farming for the Future: Planning for Profit and Nature will look at how farming can be good for both the environment and farm businesses. Attendees can look forward to a morning of presentations and discussion looking at the economics and practice of farming for nature, including a speed round to hear what farmers are doing on their farms and longer sessions on improving soil health and building grassland diversity. Sign up now to secure your spot.
Finally: don’t forget – the GSA Biosphere has a specialist Land Use & Biodiversity team who can advise on sustainability in land management and related issues including soil health. If you have a project or initiative you’d like to discuss or would like to arrange an in-person visit to your property or farm, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and our LU & B officers will be in touch.