Paper in "Environmental Science & Policy"
University researchers drawing on work at Soulton on soils publish paper in respected journal.
You can find the paper here.
This is the abstract of the paper:
Soil degradation is one of the greatest threats to global civilization with claims that there may be as few as 60 years of harvests left globally. As such, the concept of soil health has gained increasing interest in recent years. However, despite years of research there is no universally agreed metric or metrics on which policy aimed at protecting or enhancing soil health can be based. Here, we argue that the challenges associated with measuring and monitoring soil health from a policy perspective are an issue of current approach rather than concept of soil health per se.
Research into soil health has identified practices that are recognised, by consensus, and based on published scientific evidence, to improve or support soil health. These include crop rotations, reduced or no tillage, organic amendment with composts and manures, and use of cover crops. Implementation of a different approach to soil policy and farm subsidies based on a “Payment for Practice” policy paradigm would circumvent the intractable issues associated with identifying and implementing performance-based policy predicated on soil health monitoring at the field scale. Payments based on practice could be dependent on the combinations of practices implemented. Efforts spent on identifying the best practices for a given farming system/environment rather than attempting to find a soil health indicator that will do all things for all people would concurrently provide evidence to policy makers on which to form policy while providing robust guidelines for farmers and land managers. This will facilitate improvement and maintenance of soil health through specified practices based on empirical evidence.