Its report, which calls for an urgent review into the subsidy regime for maize for anaerobic digestion, says the UK places little importance on soil, resulting in ‘a worrying lack of knowledge’.
Although 95 per cent of our food comes from soil, the political agenda does not reflect this and policy is ‘insufficient in protecting it’, the report says.
A panel of MPs and peers heard experts from the NFU, Rothamsted Research Institute, the Soil Association and Cranfield University among others.
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer, who led the inquiry, said: “Failure to tackle current problems will lead to catastrophic environmental, economic and social breakdown. Reversing the loss of soils, along with restoring knowledge and interest in soil, are essential first steps to sustainable food production.”
The report recommends measures within Pillar 2 of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to incentivise farmers to improve organic matter with initiatives such as agroforestry, which it says could mitigate against harmful monocrops like maize grown for energy.
The findings echo the recent Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) report on soil health.
The panel supports recommendation 691 from the EAC report, which calls for agricultural practices that maximise soil health and landowner incentives to restore soil quality to help mitigate against flooding; policies the APPG says could help deliver on food security as well as prevent flood damage.
Georgia Farnworth, policy officer at the Soil Association, said the report was ‘hugely encouraging’.
“Our evidence to the APPG into the need to protect our soils have been agreed, especially from the negative impacts of growing maize, which were highlighted in this report as well as by the Environmental Audit Committee and in the recent DECC consultation,” she said.