SoilTalks 02 ~ 25 March 2021
There is a huge amount of soils' research happening today, and this research is shaping how soils are governed and managed around the world. Improving soils requires ongoing learning about how to transform land uses in specific places so that both soils and people who live on them can benefit. This vast task cannot depend on top-down models of science-driven policy alone. Everyone can become an expert in soil improvement.
In this session, we asked: How can we open soil research up, and support everyone to become experts in their own soils? What is the value of ‘democratising’ soil research? What may soil research which is open to everyone or led by non-experts look like in practice? What is the role of policy and of science in supporting this direction, and what are the barriers in our way?
To address this issue we assembled a panel of experts working on public participation in soil science in policy, research, and practice. They discussed the value of opening up soil research in improving soil health everywhere, showcased inspiring examples of what grass-soil research can look like in practice, and discussed ways of supporting all of us to become experts in our soils.
This event was co-organised with Soil Care Network, and with the support of the University of Sheffield Institute for Sustainable Food.
The event was chaired by Anna Krzywoszynska of the Institute for Sustainable Food at the University of Sheffield, Soil Care Network & uksoils, and moderated by Ellen Fay of SSA and uksoils.
Teresa Pinto Correia is a Professor at the University of Évora and director of the newly created MED Research Unit -Mediterranean Institute for Agriculture, Environment and Development. She is the Deputy Chair of the Mission Board on Soil Health and Food of the Horizon Europe, the next Framework Program (2021-2027).
Lola is an independent researcher and soil health consultant associate with the Agroecology Lab of the Brussels Bioengineering School. Her PhD thesis explored soil health and farmers' knowledge through a collaborative method. She has been exploring collaborative soil research since then.
Jackie Stroud (@wormscience) has over 10 years soil science experience. After working with farmers to reduce the environmental impacts of their no-tillage systems in Australia, she returned to the UK where farmer-science partnerships are uncommon. She established a ‘Ploughing on regardless?’ research programme, exploring ways to support farmers soil management experiments. This included community aggregate stability surveys and designing earthworm assessments together facilitated using social media.
As background to the debate you may want to have a look at these online resources:
uksoils is a consortium of scientific, campaigning and awareness raising organisations, all with a specialist knowledge of soil health, founded by UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Sustainable Soils Alliance, Earthwatch and University of Sheffield.