GNDE (Civil Society) ≠ GNE (European Commission): Vive la différence! : “Normality is the problem”

In the climate of uncertainty created by Covid 19 we are living in a waiting situation. It’s almost as if we are on a starting line waiting for the starting gun. But going where? To start everything all over again as before, once restrictions and limitations have been lifted? This tragedy – which has already seen tens of thousands of deaths –  must, and we repeat must make us reflect on and reconsider our way of life. The hardest hit generation is the oldest, those very people who in the postwar period enabled an oasis of happiness to be built in Europe. This oasis of peace, solidarity and mutual understanding is called the European Union. It was their energy and sacrifices that allowed us to lead a life of dignity, based on values that are the envy of those who are not part of the EU. It was they who provided healthcare, food and education for all, with no ifs or buts. And we are letting them be taken first. The carehomes of many countries – whether as a result of political decisions or for other reasons – are not getting the healthcare support they need. We are not trying to be critical, we are just asking people to spare a thought for these elderly people who are alone in the last moments of their lives, without the presence and comfort of their loved ones.

Policies based on profiting from the dismantling of the public sphere have led to the state of disintegration that we we see before us. The approach of “There Is No Alternative” has failed, as has that of unchecked globalization. At moments of crisis we turn to the state and to its ability to regulate not only the health emergency but also the economic survival of businesses and individuals. Continua a leggere “GNDE (Civil Society) ≠ GNE (European Commission): Vive la différence! : “Normality is the problem””

Report of the Conference on the Soil 25/11/2019

The report on the Conference on the Soil of 25 November 2019 – Soil and the SDGs: challenges and need for action – has now been published. We invite all to read this excellent summary of the discussions and speeches. Here we want to concentrate on the two pages of recommendations: on their own they could be regarded as the programme to be inserted into the GDE planning which as yet does not pay much attention to the soil.

There are four chapters listing the actions to be undertaken. Let us read carefully what is proposed.

 How should we act? Continua a leggere “Report of the Conference on the Soil 25/11/2019”

Compost + cultivation = increased storage of organic C in the soil

An interesting and important study conducted for 19 years by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the UC Davis College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, found that practices that increase soil organic carbon, such as the use of compost, help increase long-term soil carbon storage.

By moving beyond the surface level and literally digging deep, scientists at the University of California, Davis, found that compost is a key to storing carbon in semi-arid cropland soils, a strategy for offsetting CO2 emissions.

Briefly:cerchio carbonio suolo

  1. Conventional soils neither release nor store much carbon.
  2. Cover cropping conventional soils, while increasing carbon in the surface 12 inches, can actually lose significant amounts of carbon below that depth.
  3. When both compost and cover-crops were added in the organic-certified system, soil carbon content increased 12.6 percent over the length of the study, or about 0.07 percent annually.

That is more than the international “4 per 1000” initiative, which calls for an increase of 0.04 percent of soil carbon per year. It is also far more carbon stored than would be calculated if only the surface layer was measured. Continua a leggere “Compost + cultivation = increased storage of organic C in the soil”

AHDB’s Horticulture Manual (UK)

If you visit the site of the AHDB (the UK’s Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board) you can get an idea of the many questions that British farmers  – and fruit and vegetable growers in particular – are asking following Brexit. We hope that this “agreed separation” will not create further problems for people and producers who are working to achieve a civil cohabitation, at least on the subject of food. We turn to the AHDB, not because of their detachment from the EU but because of the important contribution they make through their attention to the soil and their programme of research on its management. The website has a section called “Greatsoils” where you can find publications that are based on scientific data while remaining easy to read and understand. One in particular sets out how someone can assess their own soil: a handbook with the title Soil management for horticulture. Continua a leggere “AHDB’s Horticulture Manual (UK)”

Soil Care Network (UK)

In December 2017 a workshop was held in Sheffield UK, with the title Rediscovering soils. This led to an analysis of the importance of observing soils from various points of view, innovating and broadening soil science.

Organized by researchers working across the social sciences and the humanities, this workshop set soils on the agenda of the social sciences and the humanities, but did so by reaching across the social sciences/natural sciences divide. At the heart of this effort was a desire to establish a constructive, critical, empirically-grounded exchange about soil and scientific practice.

One outcome of this workshop was the creation of the “Soil Care Network whose sole guiding principle is the protection and care of the soil. Continua a leggere “Soil Care Network (UK)”

Planet A® Appeal “Land Matter Planet – Quality of the soil for the health of life”

Participants in the Planet A® session held 27-28 June 2019 at Chalons en Champagne in France with the title “Land Matter Planet – Quality of the soil for the health of life“, drew up and signed an appeal to those responsible for decision-making in Europe. We are reproducing it here in its entirety because of its importance. In addition to various office holders in the 4 per 1000 Initiative, the lead signatory is Rattan Lal, professor of soil science and co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize awarded in 2007 to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).


“Preserving and restoring terrestrial ecosystems, including soils and forests, by ensuring their sustainable management, combating desertification, halting and reversing land degradation and biodiversity”: This is one of the 17 sustainable development goals adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. For us scientists, observers and cultivators of land and soil, the focus on soil is a vital imperative. Continua a leggere “Planet A® Appeal “Land Matter Planet – Quality of the soil for the health of life””

Symphony of the soil

Searing heat? Torrential rain? Hailstones the size of peaches? Flooding of roads, fields and houses? The arrival of swarms of grasshoppers? Mosquitoes that become ever more numerous and aggressive? … We could go on for a long time about the problems experienced over the past few weeks. Sometimes it is hard to remember that all of this springs from our poor soil management. So let’s stop for a moment and try to think. Even better, let’s relax by watching Symphony of the Soil, a superb film that covers everything about the soil from its creation to its use. Lasting 1 hour and 45 minutes, the film is in English but can be understood even by those with little grasp of the language thanks to the soundtrack. It is the fruit of collaboration by dozens of scholars and researchers,  but it differs from existing films thanks to its high artistic quality. The soil is the main character and its story shows us the elaborate relationships  between it and water, the atmosphere, plants, animals, fungi, and bacteria.

The film also examines our human relationship with soil, the use and misuse of soil in agriculture, deforestation and development, and the latest scientific research on the soil’s key role in ameliorating the most challenging environmental issues of our time. Filmed on four continents, featuring esteemed scientists and working farmers and ranchers, Symphony of the Soil is an intriguing presentation that highlights the possibility of healthy soil creating healthy plants creating healthy humans living on a healthy planet.

The film’s orchestral score is superb, and the film deserves to be watched on that account alone. Indeed, the music creates a feeling of serenity and balance that is unusual in nature  films, conveying the essential part played by the soil in supporting life on earth.

One small step … on our journey!

In July 1969 Apollo 11 took the first men to the moon. The first words spoken on the lunar surface by Neil Armstrong were “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”.

Of course we are exaggerating for effect when we compare ourselves to the Apollo 11 mission, but we can say that the SIP Forum has also taken a small “step” towards fulfilling its aims for the European dimension of the soil. Our three questions sent to Italian candidates for the European Parliament received 19 replies. We regard them as the “nucleus” of a broader action whose direction is very clear:

  1. firm up the synergy between the 19 candidates who showed openness towards the subject of the soil in Europe and ensure that communication on this matter circulates among them and among others who show a similar awareness;
  2. encourage the creation in other EU member states of similar “political” nuclei that are sensitized to the issue;
  3. enable connections between these nuclei and the development of a common plan;
  4. to push the need for an EU directive for soil protection within the EU’s institutions.

Continua a leggere “One small step … on our journey!”