Why Soil?

Ever since the international year of soils in 2015, the vital importance of soil has been increasingly acknowledged by farmers, growers and agriculture policy makers alike. We know that without soil, most food production becomes all but impossible; and we recognise that some of our food production systems are leading to unprecedented levels of soil degradation.

Working with living soils


We are quickly learning what we need to do to improve soil health and function. Key to this is a better understanding of soil biology and how our practices interact with the fauna and flora in our soils.

Organic matter consists of living and dead material, both of which are vital to soil functioning. Reliance on inorganic inputs and limited crop returns to soil means that in many areas, we are seeing a decline in levels of Soil Organic Matter (SOM). 

Organically-managed soils and farmland can maintain soil fertility, enhance biodiversity and improve water retention capacity. It can even be part of the solution to mitigate climate change through increased soil carbon sequestration.

The Soil Association vision is that soils must be living entities, full of organisms that are essential to maintaining productive capacity. Every farm has different soil types, and an understanding of how to manage your own is key to maintaining their health and productivity. Best management practices will vary depending on soil type but getting it right shouldn’t only be seen as a challenge. Custodians of healthy soils will see benefits for their business, and will be recognised by a society that increasingly acknowledges the value of healthy soil.

Think Soils: Examining Soil Structure

The Environmental Agency

An Introduction to Soil Biology


Seven Ways to Save Our Soils

The Soil Association 

Author: Liz Bowles

Head of Farming

Liz is Head of Farming and is responsible for leading and managing our work with farmers. Liz has a wealth of experience of agriculture and food both in the UK and internationally. She has worked in the sector for over 20 years and brings a practical approach combined with scientific and sector knowledge to her role.

Past roles have been with English Food and Farming Partnerships and ADAS. Liz holds a BSc in Animal Science and is a Nuffield scholar. Her research involved exploring co-operation in the red meat sector and was a precursor to her joining EFFP where she worked on the development of supply chain collaboration in England.

In her spare time Liz manages one of the largest pedigree flocks of Shropshire sheep in the UK and combines this with being a Council Member of the Breed Society.