This was according to the Campaign to Protect Rural England latest report which said farmers needed a radical rethink on the way they managed soils to help regenerate the land and tackle climate change.
A perfect storm of industrial farming practices, poor land management and impact from developments is degrading soils to the tune of £1.2 billion each year.
This was according to the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) latest report which said farmers needed a radical rethink on the way they managed soils to help regenerate the land and tackle climate change.
It said the three impacts had resulted in dangerous levels of soil erosion, compaction and a loss of soil’s fertility – and the Government must put into place a goal to stop soil degradation by 2030, with a new goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture by 2050.
It came as World Soil Day (December 5) was marked by a new government campaign #StopSoilPollution to highlight the importance of healthy soils and the free advice, training and events available to farmers and land managers by Catchment Sensitive Farming officers.
Graeme Willis, CPRE senior rural policy campaigner, said: “For far too long we have been ignoring the fragility of such a precious commodity. Only now is the Government starting to address the damage decades of neglect has caused.
“Ensuring our soils are healthy is crucial if we are to effectively tackle climate change – or mitigate its worst effects.”
Common farming techniques, as well as overgrazing and compaction from heavy machinery, has led to almost three million tonnes of topsoil being eroded every year across the UK, the report said.
And based on current annual rates of land lost to development, 1,580 kilometres of farmland will be lost within a decade.
But preventing the loss of greenhouse gases from soils and rebuilding their carbon stores could help reduce the flooding and erosion that more frequent extreme weather could bring but, if managed badly, would lack the resilience to cope with storms or drought.