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23 Aug 2023

British Society of Soil Science Highlighting the Importance of Soil at CLR Expo

British Society of Soil Science Stand: CLR-A30
British Society of Soil Science Highlighting the Importance of Soil at CLR Expo

With around 30% of the Earth’s surface classed as land, the way we use and interact with land has a huge impact on life as we know it. Given the increased need and pressure to address global problems, such as climate change, that will affect the sustainable future of our planet, it is imperative that we take measures and adopt practices to protect it; and this starts with soil.

Soil holds the key to our planet’s past and future and is the answer to our food, water and energy security, mitigating and adapting to climate change, the safeguarding of biodiversity, and the protection of human health.

However, if our soil is not managed, maintained, or used sustainably, we will not be able to produce enough food or get the nutrients that we need. World soil health is under pressure from several threats, including erosion, loss of soil organic carbon and biodiversity, pollution, and salinisation. Soil nutrient loss is a major soil degradation process threatening nutrition and is recognised as being among the most important problems at a global level for food security and sustainability.

Adopting best practices and properly understanding and managing life in soil is a long-term investment and the essence for maintaining soil health. We must focus on maintaining and restoring our soils, finding solutions to meeting environmental targets, achieve climate neutrality, zero pollution, sustainable food provision and a resilient and biodiverse environment. Many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals cannot be achieved without healthy soils, sustainable land use and strong policy. Healthy soil supports biodiversity: biodiverse soils can host millions of organisms in each teaspoon. Sustaining life in soil is essential to ensure soil health, which supports our ability to grow food and farm effectively. When managed well, soil can store significant amounts of rainfall, preventing flooding and stop soil washing away, which can affect the health and safety of communities.

The British Society of Soil Science is committed to the study of soil in its widest aspects and brings together those working within academia and practitioners implementing soil science in industry, to ensure our soils are sustainably managed.

Through our webinars, courses, conferences and resources, we strive to provide enhanced understanding and engagement with soils. We promote research and education, both academically and in practice, and build collaborative partnerships to help safeguard our soil for the future.

To understand soils, history is one of the key underlying factors to consider, whether it be soil development on geological timescales, environmental forces, or legacies from preceding soil management. The latter is particularly relevant when considering whether contaminants may be present in a soil, and whether these could be a risk to people and livestock. Accounting for historical management is particularly pertinent in places such as the UK where a good proportion of available land stock could be considered to have been altered from their natural state and where space is at a premium. As part of our successful Zoom into Soil webinar series, we welcomed two experts who focused on contaminated land, and in particular on asbestos contamination.  

The speakers provided delegates with an insight into the framework for the management of contaminated land, defining contaminants and the ways in which they may act on activity within a landscape. The benefits of adopting a site-specific risk-based approach were highlighted and analysis was offered of the potential risk contaminants may pose, how they may act upon us, and how they should be appropriately managed on a case-by-case basis using a variety of tools. Narrowing down to focus on asbestos, a general introduction to the regulatory framework and licensing conditions necessary to work with asbestos was discussed and the necessary controls outlined. Both speakers also suggested protocols for the management of asbestos contaminated soils at a site level. For further information on contaminated soils management, and more information on asbestos specifically, this webinar is one to watch!

At the British Society of Soil Science, part of our strategy is to educate and inspire the next generation of soil scientists through knowledge exchange and engagement. We need to come together, create knowledge, share experiences, shape agendas and find workable solutions to conserve our soils. It is time we take a ‘ground up’ approach to protect our most valuable resource, that supports life on Earth; our soil.

If you are interested in becoming a member or finding out more about the Society, come and visit us on Stand CT-E81.

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