5 June 2019
Integrating Farming and Forestry

Farm Woodland Forum annual meeting

2 July 2019
Trees and Livestock - Buckinghamshire

Agroforestry Innovation Network Meeting



16 May 2019
Organic farming statistics 2018

Defra releases estimates of the land area farmed organically, crop areas, livestock numbers and numbers of organic producers and processors in the UK

10 May 2019
Agroecological transitions

Five case studies of farmers' experiences published



21 March 2019
In adversity, what are farmers doing to be more resilient?

Opportunities, barriers and constraints in organic techniques helping to improve the sustainability of conventional farming

New report on soil biology

Category: News
19 November 2012

Natural England has published a report on Managing Soil Biota to Deliver Ecosystem Services, produced by a team led by Dr Elizabeth Stockdale (Newcastle University) and Dr Christine Watson (Scottish Agricultural College).

Many recent studies have highlighted the fundamental role that soil organisms play in making soils work for us, but also suggest that soil life and its function can be compromised by many commonplace agricultural practices. This report aimed to explore farming practices and systems that can improve the biological function of soil, and deliver benefits to both agriculture and the wider environment. It includes a review of the impacts of different practices, an exploration of selected practices likely to deliver benefits, feedback from farmersí workshops on the practicalities of different approaches, and also a series of five case studies (as separate Annexes) which describe soil biological management in action, its benefits and challenges.

The report concludes that the biological function of soils can be enhanced by simple approaches that can be integrated into real farm systems - adapting organic matter management, cultivation approaches and cropping - with likely benefits to both farming and the environment. However, uptake of these approaches was restricted by the lack of UK-based demonstrations, trials and advice, and because it is currently difficult for farmers to measure and evaluate impacts on soil biological health. The report highlights the need to communicate and demonstrate these approaches in real, profitable farm systems, with monitoring of the impacts, costs and benefits.

Matthew Shepherd (matthew.j.shepherd@naturalengland.org.uk), the project officer at Natural England responsible for commissioning the report, is interested in any views or ideas readers of the report might have on the subject.

Keywords: soil biota ecology ecosystem services biology management

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