Soil degradation is the biggest potential disaster facing us all says Soil Association President Monty Don

14 October 2013

Soil Association President Monty Don will be discussing the threat to soil in ‘Shared Planet’ airing on Radio 4 at 11am on Tuesday 15 October. This episode of Shared Planet explores the earth’s soils as an important natural resource under much pressure from a growing human population and dependent wildlife. Monty will be looking at the latest science on UK soils in this programme and reflecting on what this decline could mean.

At the Soil Association’s annual conference last week, President Monty Don said:
The biggest potential disaster that is facing us all is the degradation of our soil. That should be at the core of our thinking. If we are to feed the world, we must have good soil. As a soil scientist said to me only last week, we have reached ‘peak soil’ and we can’t produce any more. 40% of the land mass of this earth Is now being cultivated, and because our soil is being used up - we’re losing it at the rate of about 50 times the rate that it’s reproducing - the companies and corporations are buying more land. We are trying to consume our way out of over consumption. It’s a disaster.

Soil Association Policy Director Peter Melchett comments:
“Following the EU decision to drop their proposed European legislation to protect soils, partly at the insistence of the UK government, the Soil Association is calling on Owen Paterson to say what he will do to stop the extraordinarily high rate of loss of UK soils on which all of our food production depends. The latest major UK soil study, conducted in 2009, found that food production is being jeopardised by the loss of two million tonnes of topsoil each year. The health of our soil is too important to leave to chance. The EU directive that the UK government has blocked would have led to co-ordinated action to protect and improve soils across the EU. Now it is up to the UK government to take action.”

Listen here at 11am Tuesday 15 October:

The Soil Association National Soil Symposium 2013 will be held on 13-14 November in Bristol, find out more here:


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• This episode of Shared Planet explores the link between a growing human population and wildlife and there is no other part of the natural world that is under as much pressure as the earth's soils. We rely on them to grow healthy crops, which they can only do if they support an appropriate community of bacterial, fungal and invertebrate life. Wildlife too depends on this diverse life that thrives in the soil, everything from birds to plants to insects. The earth worm is the surprising champion of soils and an animal that looks vulnerable in the face of human population pressure. Listen here:
• The Soil Association is a membership charity campaigning for planet-friendly food and farming. We believe in the connection between soil, food, the health of people and the health of the planet. See for more information. 

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