News & Updates: Summer 2022

We hope you have all had an enjoyable summer and have been able to keep cool! The dry weather in the UK has highlighted the importance of resilient supply chains which depend on healthy soils. This quarter of the year has also been packed with various events that have showcased the value of healthy soils across a variety of sectors ranging from farming and academia to bioplastics. We are delighted to have been invited to participated in many of these to highlight what is needed from soils policy and sector initiatives – we hope the attention this has shone on soils will continue to generate important future opportunities for soil health throughout the UK.


1.     Defra’s Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI)

In June, Defra opened applications to its Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) - starting with two Soils Standards and a Moorland Standard. Farmers are now able to apply to the Arable and Horticultural and the Improved Grassland soils standards with a payment per hectare in return for several actions related to soil health and sustainability including soil organic matter tests and winter cover.

This spring, we hosted a workshop ‘Soils in the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI): Delivering results for farming and the environment?’. We partnered with Defra on this, providing an opportunity for a range of organisations (science, farming, policymaking, NGO) to review the SFI scheme and its two soils standards. The workshop report is now available online, highlighting the comments and concerns raised by participants.

Read the Workshop Report

We are now working with Plymouth University on their Environmental Land Management Strategic Knowledge Exchange Hub (ELMS-Exchange), designed to kickstart research and innovation initiatives specifically designed to help Defra evaluate how the SFI and other ELM schemes will deliver for the environment and farm productivity. Stakeholder workshops to inform and shape this will be taking place in the Autumn.

Photo: Poor and good soil structure. Credit: Richard Smith, EA.

2.     Soil Carbon

The UK Farm Soil Carbon Code (UKFSCC) Consortium has published its review and analysis of all the major soil carbon standards operating internationally, including the lessons to be learned for the development of a high-integrity soil carbon market in the UK.

Read the Review

Based on the outcomes of this research, the Consortium team is now in the process of drafting minimum requirements to establish a set of criteria to appraise existing soil carbon codes, standards and schemes. These will ensure the rigour of their measurement, permanence, additionality, leakage etc.

Extensive consultation is currently underway through targeted stakeholder workshops. An online public consultation/feedback form will be available via our website in September and a public stakeholder event will be taking place late September.

If you have not already registered for the UKFSCC updates (including workshop dates), you can do so here.

Visit the UKFSCC webpage for more information

3.     Soil in the Supply Chain 

Our Soil Health Industry Platform (SHIP) is a collaborative initiative that aims to discuss, harness, align and amplify the efforts of major food and drink businesses (retail and manufacture) to improve soil health and address soil damage throughout the UK supply chain. Launched this spring, it has now held two meetings with official members of the Platform and we are delighted that ten businesses have officially signed up: Tesco, Sainsbury's, Waitrose, Morrisons, Kellogg’s, Nestlé, Yeo Valley, Arla, Nomad Foods, and PepsiCo. We’ve also welcomed guest participants at the meetings, which so far have included WWF, NIAB, the National Trust, the Environment Agency and ABACO.

The subjects we are currently examining include universal soil metrics throughout the supply chain and understanding the risks to soil health and possible means to reduce and mitigate them. Last meeting discussed the hidden risk of subsoil compaction, which feels particularly significant given the recent weather we are having. In the next few months, we are hoping to develop a soil health commitment that participating businesses can sign up to.

Learn more about the Soil Health Industry Platform (SHIP)

For those of you interested in being part of the Platform, please contact 

4.     uksoils

 We’re excited to announce that will be holding the first ever UK Soils Awareness Week this autumn – so keep your eyes peeled for upcoming announcements to find out how to get involved and raise soil’s public profile! You can now follow uksoils on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook to find out more!


We are still awaiting Defra’s Soil Health Action Plan (SHAPE) framework consultation due last spring - which appears to be on hold following recent Westminster developments. We hope to see further details published soon, as stated in Defra’s response to the Earl of Caitness who raised SHAPE’s delay last month

We ​​submitted a response to Defra's Nature Recovery Green Paper, highlighting the ways in which soil health is crucial to protected sites and species and the current policy and research gaps that need addressing.

Read our response to the Nature Recovery Green Paper

The SSA together with the UK Farm Soil Carbon Code Consortium submitted a response to the UK Government's call for evidence on a Green Finance Strategy, highlighting the need for a set of minimum requirements in the soil carbon market and an open-access soil carbon code for new entrants into the market.

Read our response to the Green Finance Strategy

We have also recently responded to Parliament's Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee’s ELMs Call for Evidence, our response will be available online later in the year once it has been accepted as evidence by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee.


The 22nd World Congress of Soil Science took place in August, convening over 3,000 soil scientists and policymakers from across the globe. Our Co-Executive Director Ellen Fay presented at the first ever policy session at the Congress, which drew together researchers and policymakers to discuss how research can be used to develop policy. The British Society of Soil Science (BSSS) will be publishing a report outlining these discussions to influence and encourage collaboration between Governments and scientists to develop stronger policy and legislation to protect soils.

An article in the Farmers Guardian published this week also delves into UK soil policies, quoting Ellen explaining that whilst soil policies are devolved, they require some coordination as soils and the ecosystems they impact do not recognise borders. She also highlights the potential competing impacts the current climate, energy and food crises could have.

Read the Farmers Guardian article

SSA Co-Executive Director Matthew Orman attended the launch of the National Farmers Union’s (NFU) ‘The Foundation for Food’ report in July, highlighting their vision for good soil health and calling for economically viable soil testing, robust data collection, better knowledge exchange and developing a soil carbon marketplace. We are encouraged to see such ‘asks’ and will be discussing them in greater detail with members of the NFU in the coming months.

Read the NFU's Report

Photo: NFU launch of The Foundation of Food report. Credit: NFU.

This summer we also hosted an online panel discussion from Riverford Farm with Sadguru (Guru and founder of the Save Soil Movement), Vicki Hird (author and Head of Sustainable Farming at Sustain), Tim Smit (Co-Founder of the Eden Project), and George Monbiot (author and journalist at the Guardian) on how to create a movement to galvanise people and governments around soil health in the UK and beyond. The discussion will be broadcast in the autumn and will coincide with the UK Soils Awareness Week - we hope you will feel inspired by this great discussion!

Photo: Save Soil campaign on London Busses. Credit: Conscious Planet.

In June we attended Groundswell which attracted over 5,000 people to discuss regenerative farming and share knowledge around healthy soils. Recurring themes included the need for consistent soil metrics, soil carbon insetting, environmental labels and premium prices for regenerative agriculture, as well as the need to showcase best practice for peer-to-peer learning. 

Photo: Groundswell. Credit: Curious PR.

We also attended the Sustainable Food Trust’s ‘Feeding Britain’ report launch at Fir Farm in June. The report modelled what a UK transition to sustainable and regenerative farming practices would look like and suggests that a key principle of the transition would be the use of biological processes to improve soil fertility.

Ellen also spoke at the Bio-based and Biodegradable Industries Association (BBIA) Spring Meeting on the UK Bioeconomy: Policy, Infrastructure and Innovation. She highlighted the current developments in soils policy in the UK and encouraged the bio-based and compostable/biodegradable materials industry to play a role in addressing policy gaps around plastic pollution going to soils.

The impact plastic pollution is having on soils also received media attention in July, following the Environment Agency’s latest water and sewerage company assessment revealing thousands of tonnes of microplastics are being spread to soils. An article in ENDS Report quotes Ellen on the complexity this represents at a policy level – as it is an issue that straddles various different sectors and government departments and therefore needs careful coordination.

Read the ENDs article on microplastic pollution

We are hosting a fundraising dinner at the Yeo Valley Headquarters on Thursday 29th September. As part of this event, we’re delighted that Sarah Langford will be presenting her new book Rooted.

We’d like to thank Yeo Valley for their ongoing support and for offering us an opportunity to hold this evening, as well as all of the individuals and businesses who have donated prizes for the raffle and auction taking place on the night. The money raised will contribute to our core activities to raise soil’s political profile and convene experts to devise solutions to the complex technical, practical and legal challenges that need to be addressed to see our soils properly protected for generations to come. 

If you feel you are able to contribute to the event by donating prizes for the raffle and auction, or would like any more information about the event, please do not hesitate to contact

We hope you enjoy the final days of summer, and we look forward to continuing on building the soil momentum now firmly in place in the final quarters of the year!

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank those who make online donations to our work and for your continued interest in and support for the SSA!

The SSA Team: Ellen, Matt, Anicée, George, Nev, Kevin and Robert.

To keep up to date with soil news from around the UK and further afield follow us on Twitter @soilsalliance and watch out for our Week in Soil update, published every Friday morning. Have some news or a soil-related event to share with our community? Email
We'd like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have donated to the SSA. We're extremely grateful for all contributions, large & small.
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