Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum

For booking-related queries or information on speaking please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk, or contact us: +44 (0)1344 864796.

Priorities for improving soil health in the UK

Morning, Tuesday, 12th March 2024


This conference will examine priorities for improving soil health and delivering sustainably managed soils in the UK.


Stakeholders and policymakers will discuss what will be needed to meet the commitment of bringing 60% of agricultural soil into sustainable management by 2030, as outlined in Defra’s revised Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP), following on from the previously proposed Soil Health Action Plan.


Delegates will examine strategies for improving soil management and monitoring as outlined in the 2023 EIP, including the development of soil data, investment into local skills and knowledge, and incentivising sustainable soil management. Discussion will consider latest thinking on new and emerging threats to UK soils, and innovative solutions to challenges for soils across rural and urban settings.


We expect discussion on recommendations for the creation of a regulatory framework for soil health, along with agreement and clarity on measurement, monitoring and definitions, and moving towards the ambition for nearly all agricultural land to be in an ELM scheme by 2040, outlined in the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Committee’s Soil Health Inquiry.


Further sessions consider how enablers for improved soil management can be put in place, including funding and support, and developing frameworks for stakeholder collaboration involving farmers, land managers, building developers, investors and innovators, the wider business community, and policymakers in local and central government.


We also expect discussion on how soil health commitments fit in with wider policy ambitions for environmental land management, as well as for decarbonisation of agricultural emissions and the pathway to national net zero targets.


We are pleased to be able to include keynote sessions with: David Smedley, Head of Soil and Peatland Science and Evidence, Defra; Rachel Boulderstone, Head of Soils and Contaminated Land Policy, Defra; Dr Eleanor Reed, Principal Soil Specialist, Natural England; Richard Bramley, Chair, Environment Forum, National Farmers Union; and Professor John Crawford, Lead, Global Soil Health Programme, University of Glasgow.


Overall, sessions in the agenda include discussion on:

  • policy: next steps for delivering sustainably managed soils in the UK - financing the transition - personalised and adaptable support for farmers and growers
  • land management: priorities for assisting land managers and farmers in moving towards sustainable soil management - examining effective implementation of agricultural schemes
  • strategy: improving soil monitoring - options for soil classification - baselining and target-setting - overcoming fertiliser and pesticide-related issues - protecting and improving urban soils
  • research: priority areas - unlocking opportunities for innovation and citizen science - building a global framework for improving soil health and management
  • unlocking value: soil as natural capital - the potential for soil carbon markets - increasing crop yields and promoting financial savings - implementing the Sustainable Farming Incentive
  • net zero: the wider role of soil health in the UK - impact on wider net zero targets and government strategies for decarbonising agricultural emissions

The conference will be an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who are due to attend from Defra; AFBI, NI; APHA; CCC; DAERA, NI; DBT; DESNZ; EA; ESS; FCDO; FSA; Homes England; Isle of Man Government; Natural Resources Wales; NIEA; OEP; Ofwat; ONS; Planning Inspectorate; VMD; The Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government - as well as parliamentary pass-holders from both Houses of Parliament.



Keynote Speakers

Professor John Crawford

Lead, Global Soil Health Programme, University of Glasgow

Rachel Boulderstone

Head of Soils and Contaminated Land Policy, Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

David Smedley

Head of Soil and Peatland Science and Evidence, Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

Richard Bramley

Chair, Environment Forum, National Farmers Union

Dr Eleanor Reed

Principal Soil Specialist, Natural England

Keynote Speakers

Dr Eleanor Reed

Principal Soil Specialist, Natural England

Professor John Crawford

Lead, Global Soil Health Programme, University of Glasgow

Rachel Boulderstone

Head of Soils and Contaminated Land Policy, Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

David Smedley

Head of Soil and Peatland Science and Evidence, Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

Richard Bramley

Chair, Environment Forum, National Farmers Union

Chairs

Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle

Vice-Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Environment

Baroness Hayman of Ullock

Shadow Spokesperson, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Speakers

Charles Campion

Partner, John Thompson and Partners

Susanna Dart

Climate Change Policy Officer, Lancaster City Council

Mike Gooding

Farming Systems Director, AHDB

Martin Hanson

Head of Agriculture, HSBC

Dr Fabrizio Albanito

Senior Soil Health and Carbon Specialist, UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

Gareth Morgan

Head of Policy, Farming and Land Use, Soil Association

Dr Elizabeth Stockdale

Head of Farming Systems Research, National Institute of Agricultural Botany

Nick Johannsen

Director, Kent Downs National Landscapes

Kevin Kennedy

Partner, Burges Salmon