Campaign to Protect Rural England Standing up for your countryside

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Back to the land: rethinking our approach to soil

Back to the land: rethinking our approach to soil

This report from CPRE calls for a radical rethink of farming practices and soil management in order to help regenerate the soils that underpin our supply of food and environment. It sets out practical ways to restore soil and new approaches to policy.

This is the third paper of our Food and Farming Foresight Series. We explore why soils are important and their main functions, and look at the key threats they face, from the way they are managed to their loss to farming when developed. The report also analyses why soils must be better protected in the future, including to secure the domestic supply of food, reduce the risks of climate change, improve water quality and restore the health of the natural world. It also considers why soils continue to be degraded and lost, including an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of recent policy.

We set out innovative farming practices, from agroforestry to mob grazing, that can help regenerate and restore healthy soils, whilst still maintaining the productivity and profitability of the farms that use them.

We're calling on the government to:

  • Make protection of all soils from degradation a headline goal of the 25 Year Environment Plan and develop an action plan to achieve their sustainable management by 2030
  • Establish a new goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture by 2050
  • Design investment and regulation to halt soil degradation and promote measures which protect and regenerate soils
  • Commit to developing metrics and monitoring needed to underpin sustainable soil management
  • Revise the National Planning Policy Framework and national planning guidance to recognise land and soils for the role they play, and to minimise degradation. 

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