Why we need to talk about soil degradation

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32 min listen

The UN has described soil degradation being ‘as important as climate change’ yet soil degradation is often overlooked when we talk about the threats to future generations. It’s easy to degrade soil quickly, but not easy to repair the damage that is caused so what can be done to protect our precious resource for agriculture in the future?

To find out we’ve assembled a panel of experts including Caroline Drummond, CEO, LEAF, Carl Edwards, Director of Education and Public Engagement, LEAF, and Dr Felicity Crotty, Lecturer in Soil Science, Royal Agricultural University. We’ll discuss the scale of the challenge we face, what is happening now to raise awareness of soil degradation, and what we can do to fix our agriculture system. Join us for a fascinating and lively debate on Table Talk.

About our panel

Caroline Drummond, CEO, LEAF

Caroline Drummond has been Chief Executive of LEAF since it started in 1991. After graduating in Agriculture she worked on farms in the UK and overseas before joining LEAF. She was awarded an MBE for services to the agricultural industry in 2009 and has a Doctor of Science honoris causa (Hon DSc) from Harper Adams University. Caroline is a CHAP Board member, a Nuffield Scholar and Honorary Fellow for the Society of the Environment.

Carl Edwards, LEAF Education & Public Engagement Director

Carl leads LEAF’s ambitious education and public engagement strategy that is enabling schools to enrich their curriculum and increase public understanding of our modern farming industry. Carl is ensuring that the agricultural industry listens to the voice of young people in shaping how we work with our future generation; being at the forefront of promoting an understanding of the Agricultural industry by teenagers, a long-overlooked audience. Previously, Carl was an Assistant Principal and completed his Master of Education degree at the University of Cambridge in 2014, which focused on improving literacy and attainment for Geography students at GCSE level. Carl was made a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts in 2018 in light of his commitment to sustainability and creating opportunities for greater engagement between communities, farming and the countryside.

Dr Felicity Crotty, Lecturer in Soil Science, Royal Agricultural University

Dr Felicity Crotty has been researching soil biology and soil health for the last twelve years. Felicity joined the Royal Agricultural University as a Lecturer in Soil Science and Ecology in 2018. She is a soil ecologist working with the aim of promoting soil health and sustainable agriculture and is particularly interested in investigating how agricultural management effects soil quality, focusing on soil biology (earthworms, springtails, mites and nematodes), physics (compaction and water infiltration) and chemistry (N, P, K and other nutrients). Through combining her expertise in all three areas of soil science she is trying to disentangle the real impact different management strategies have on soil health and farming sustainably. Felicity has current projects investigating the use of AI to identify earthworm casts, using sensors to detect earthworm movements in the field and monetising soil health. Felicity previously worked as the Soil Scientist at the Allerton Project (Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust) working on the Sustainable Intensification Research Platform (SIP), SoilCare project (EU Horizon 2020), and Soil Biology & Soil Health Partnership (AHDB). Prior to this, she was a Post-doc at Aberystwyth University working on the PROSOIL and SUREROOT projects; she spent a year as a Post-Doc in Canada at Dalhousie University (Halifax) and Saskatchewan University (Saskatoon), experimenting on the fungal feeding channel within the soil food web. She obtained her PhD at Rothamsted Research (North Wyke) investigating the passage of carbon and nitrogen through the soil food web.

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