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Safeguard our soils to sustain our way of life, Hutton scientists say

Soil (c) James Hutton Institute
“Healthy soil is essential to a successful and sustainable farming industry.

Scientists at the James Hutton institute have welcomed the findings of a report published by the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee on the health of UK soils.

Soil is of fundamental importance to society yet remains one of our most undervalued assets. The Soil Health report, published last week, and conclusions that have been drawn from it have made it clear that the current situation is not a viable option for our future wellbeing.

Evidence was given to the Environmental Audit Committee, by a number of James Hutton scientists who are all experts in their specific areas. Particular emphasis was placed on the fact that a great deal of the necessary knowledge and tools required to manage, monitor and restore soils is already available. The evidence went on to say that what is needed is urgent action and investment from all organisations who work with soils to stop further degradation of this essential natural resource.

As part of the Scottish Government’s State of Scotland’s Soil Report, scientists at the James Hutton Institute have estimated that an area around 10 to 20 square kilometres (roughly the size of a large town) is lost to development in Scotland every year. Put this on a European level and we are talking about an annual loss of agricultural soil in an area the size of Berlin.

Dr Tim Daniell, research leader, said: “Healthy soil is essential to a successful and sustainable farming industry. Our research, as a LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) Innovation centre, is exploring and testing practical options for soil management that can deliver wider benefits alongside crop yields.

“Our own farms lead by example and we carry out the LEAF sustainable farming review which includes soil management and fertility. This has been recognised and we have been awarded 2016 LEAF Marque status as a potato producer”
Following on from the Soil Health report the James Hutton Institute remains committed to the principle of sustainable management of the world’s soils resources.

Dr Helaina Black, Ecological Sciences group leader at the Institute, commented: “With the continued support of the Scottish Government under the 2016-2021 Strategic Research Programme, we are committed to helping increase the area of Scotland available for sustainable soil management and soil restoration.

Part of this means we are working closely with our CAMERAS (Coordinated Agenda for Marine, Environment and Rural Affairs Science) partners to implement innovative soil monitoring action plans.”

Soil monitoring can be done in many different ways but what is required is large scale national programmes which will give long-term value to society. The bottom line is we all need to be taking a closer look at our soils and acting on whether they are being managed in the most sustainable way in order to secure our future.

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Printed from /news/safeguard-our-soils-sustain-our-way-life-hutton-scientists-say on 20/02/24 10:25:50 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.