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Soil’s Role in the Fight for Regeneration

It goes without saying that protecting our Earth begins simply with the earth beneath our feet. The Food & Drinks sector takes root in our soil; so why is it that we are threatening the stability of the very food system upon which we depend? The self-destructive nature of late-stage capitalism is evident everywhere, but in the F&D sector this tragic irony rings truest.

Soil erosion is the process whereby the removal of the highly fertile topsoil damages soil health and productivity, putting strains on ecosystems and heightening the risk of floods and landslides. It is estimated that destructive agricultural practices can accelerate erosion up to a thousand times. Meanwhile, it is estimated that the adoption of regenerative agriculture could provide nearly 10% of the carbon sequestration needed to avoid a two-degree temperature rise. The need to switch to regenerative agriculture seems like a no-brainer; yet harmful techniques continue to threaten the future of our food systems.

When we hear about the collapse of vital ecosystems we are bombarded by images of mass deforestation in the Amazon or plastic pollution in our oceans. However, the systematic devastation of our soils rarely gets much attention; mainly because it has been accepted as the harsh reality of an agricultural system struggling to feed nearly 8 billion people. This is far from the truth. In a world which sees almost a third of food produced wasted, we cannot afford to sacrifice the incredible ecosystem underpinning all life on earth: soil.

To highlight the importance of healthy soils, we have highlighted 3 amazing effects of preserving lifeful soils.

Soil for Carbon Sequestration

Soils absorb roughly a quarter of global fossil fuel emissions, while also containing over 3 times the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Constant removal of topsoil is unleashing this stored carbon into our atmosphere, while also harming our soil’s capacity as a carbon sink. However, inspiring efforts, such as soil microbe transplants, are showing the way towards utilising soil as a key defence mechanism against greenhouse gas emissions. With regenerative farming techniques, we can transform our lands to hold even more carbon, realising our soil’s potential to curb emissions on our path to Net Zero & Beyond.

Healthy Soil, Healthy Food

The direct link between having healthy soil and producing plentiful harvests of nutrient-rich crops comes as no surprise, but our resistance to systems change is nothing short of shocking. The FAO predicts that sustainable soil management could increase food production by 58%, while emerging studies are demonstrating organic produce contains more minerals and nutrients, hence provide nutritional benefits.

Keeping Chemicals Out and Water In

Soil erosion coupled with the widespread use of fertilisers and pesticides creates a spiral effect of soil degradation, increasing the likelihood of such chemicals polluting rivers and streams. Not only do they reduce the risk of run-offs, strong soils are much more effective at holding and absorbing water, and therefore lead to larger yields.

There are already changemaker businesses in this space, such as Positive members AUGA and Terragenesis, recognising soil’s role in regeneration. Also, the Shift to Regenerative Agriculture is one of the 12 drivers of food systems transformation which we outline in our Food & Drinks Manifesto. Changing our food system is no easy task, but with radical collaboration and positive impact at the heart of what we do, we can bring agriculture in line with the values of the Positive Impact Community; that is, following the 5 Ps of the Positive Compass: Planet, People, Places and Partners, with Purpose at the core.

If you’d like to learn more about soil’s regenerative powers, join us for a panel discussion with the biggest experts in the field on Wednesday June 9th at 6pm BST.

  • Richard Wegman, COO of Kiss the Ground, the organisation behind the popular Netflix documentary

  • Helen Browning, CEO of the Soil Association

  • Andrew Hunt, CEO of Aduna

If you’d like to learn more about the regenerative powers of soil, watch this 2-minute video.


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