Soil Association slams UK’s inaction on fertiliser use

Thu 14/09/2023 by Richard Wilkinson

A new campaign by the Soil Association in the UK is calling for urgent public action to push the government to prioritise the reduction of “polluting” fossil fuel-based nitrogen fertilisers. The Soil Association has warned the UK government that its failure to act on fossil fuel-based fertilisers is putting the country’s whole Net Zero Strategy in jeopardy.

Soil Association head of farming policy Gareth Morgan said: “It is shocking that the government’s Net Zero Strategy makes only a passing mention of the impact of fossil fuel-based fertilisers on the climate and environment and even more alarming that they have no plan in place to support farmers to reduce their reliance on them.”

A new campaign is urging the public to sign the ‘There’s no Net Zero without fixing fertiliser’ petition, calling for the government to put an immediate plan in place to cut fossil-fuel-based nitrogen fertilisers. The Soil Association said it was working with farming and environmental NGOs to establish an action group on nitrogen to press the government.

“Agriculture and the food system are responsible for a third of all greenhouse gas emissions and failing to address this will mean that the government has simply no prospect of meeting its net zero target,” said Morgan. “It is vital that the government demonstrates its commitment to net zero by setting a target for reducing fossil fuel-based fertiliser in UK farming and offers incentives and advice to support farmers to reduce their dependence on nitrogen fertiliser and adopt cheaper, more nature friendly approaches to fix nitrogen on their farms.”

Organic farmers’ experiences could be used to steer the industry toward more nature-friendly farming practices. “Organic farmers build natural fertility using nature friendly farming practices incorporating natural fertiliser, crops including legumes and clover in rotations, and a whole farm system approach,” Morgan said. “This experience can help conventional farmers to reduce their reliance on costly inputs which will deliver significant benefits for the climate and biodiversity.”


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