Delegates gathered for the Soil Association’s 6th annual Soil Symposium last month in Solihull to hear from international experts on soil and to discuss the vital area of soil resilience in agriculture.
Themes included our soil crisis and that business as usual is not an option but there is hope through good management and taking care of vital soil life.
Internationally renowned speakers from Alaska, Australia, Canada, Norway and the Czech Republic joined UK leading experts to explore solutions for protecting and improving soil health, discuss vital fungi and microbes essential to improving yields and soil quality and encourage farmers and growers to really get to know their own soil.
Helen Browning, chief executive of the Soil Association said; “One quarter of life on earth is within the soil and the role of farmers and growers in protecting our soil cannot be underestimated. We must learn much more about the millions of species living within soil and how to nurture them to enhance plant nutrition, prevent disease and sequester carbon. What we do know already, and was brilliantly reinforced by several presentations at the symposium, – it’s about feeding the soil, not the plant directly. One of the Soil Association’s founding principles back in the ’40s!
“To see real change, we need to work with all farmers, organic and non-organic, to develop our knowledge and solutions. Every farm and every soil is different and as we work towards developing benchmarks for what healthy soil looks like, tracking how our soils change as we implement new approaches will help us get it more right for our own situation. As a farmer, I feel incredibly inspired to go home and start experimenting even more, and to try to measure the impacts more objectively. Talking to many others, I know they felt the same by the end of the day.”
Speakers included Professor Tim Benton reminding delegates that business as usual is not an option and called on the Soil Association, along with farmers and growers to publicise the importance of soil with the public and UK government.
Elizabeth Stockdale said caring for soil life is crucial to developing our food systems and her three top tips for better soil health were diversify, feed the soil and minimise tillage.
Practical sessions included: adapting drills and machinery in reduced tillage systems to managing control strategies for common rush as well as hearing from a number of organic and non-organic farmers on soil management techniques.
The event was held in association with Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) and the Symposium is a key event for farmers and growers with a packed agenda looking at practical issues facing both organic and non-organic farmers.