A Cinderella Superpower is a good way of describing soil. But that should be changing, as it comes into focus as a key environmental element in its own right. And a very complicated element at that - soil connects directly with our food, the crops that we grow, the additives put onto land and water, both in controlling it and keeping it clean. Beyond that, it clearly has a role to play in Net Zero, increasing the levels of carbon stored within it, and reducing the amount of carbon needed to produce crops from it.
One of the more challenging aspects of soil is that it is usually a privately owned means of production in itself - making it better increases its inherent productivity and reduces the inputs needed. But at the same time improving our soil is by now surely recognised as a clear public benefit, enhancing the environment and both storing and reducing the emission of carbon. That conceptual difficulty may have been one of the reasons why soil was on the Too Difficult pile for so long, but that has changed, and the future of soil looks to be one of protection, enhancement and critically, greater understanding.
The video clip from of Michael Gove from the BBC's article is revealing. I saw him speak at the launch of the Sustainable Soils Alliance (as one of its directors) and it was remarkable that some of the most radical sentiments supporting soil, in a room full of people with a real passion for it, were coming from him. This article is well worth a read, and soil is well worth its place on the list of key environmental areas for focus.
Something of a ‘Cinderella Superpower’, soil’s status is also changing as the UK finds ways to meet pressing targets for fighting climate change.