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"UK is 30-40 years away from 'eradication of soil fertility'"

The UK is 30 to 40 years away from “the fundamental eradication of soil fertility” in parts of the country, the environment secretary Michael Gove has warned.

“We have encouraged a type of farming which has damaged the earth,” Gove told the parliamentary launch of the Sustainable Soils Alliance (SSA). “Countries can withstand coups d’état, wars and conflict, even leaving the EU, but no country can withstand the loss of its soil and fertility.

“If you have heavy machines churning the soil and impacting it, if you drench it in chemicals that improve yields but in the long term undercut the future fertility of that soil, you can increase yields year on year but ultimately you really are cutting the ground away from beneath your own feet. Farmers know that.”

Arguing that farmers needed to be incentivised to tackle both the loss of soil fertility and the decline in biodiversity, Gove said that he hoped the SSA, a new body formed with the mission of bringing UK soils back to health within one generation, would hold the government to account and bring him ideas and inspiration. “We are listening to you now and it’s critical that we do so.”

Read more at The Guardian (Bibi van der Zee)

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