A new inquiry into the health of the UK’s soil had its first hearing in Parliament last week.
At the first hearing in parliament on Wednesday (March 2, 2016), the James Hutton Institute, National Trust and National Farmers Union (NFU) gave evidence to MPs.
The National Trust and the NFU told the Environmental Audit Committee’s (EAC) new inquiry that soil must be considered not just in Defra’s upcoming 25-year plan, but also in its food and farming plan.
As well as warning against conflicting priorities if the two plans could not co-ordinate, the NFU said there are gaps between academic research on soil and agricultural practice, both in how findings are communicated to practitioners and how research priorities are formed.
Environmental Audit Committee chairman, Mary Creagh said: “Healthy soil allows plants to grow and is essential to life on Earth.
"It also stores water and carbon, helping to prevent flooding and mitigate climate change. Globally soil is being dangerously depleted.
"Soil health has long been a Cinderella subject but it is the invisible back office of our ecosystem.
There are fears that we have been taking soil for granted and our committee heard yesterday that soil losses cost the UK economy up to £1 billion a year.
"Our inquiry will be looking at whether the UK Government is doing enough to ensure that we protect the health of our soil.”
The EAC is investigating the consequences of failing to protect the UK’s soil health, and the strategies which should be put in place in Defra’s upcoming 25-year-plan.
There are three further hearings scheduled and a report is expected later in the year.