This workshop was a first step towards considering what a soil health index could and should include. A potential follow-on activity could be compiling an advisory briefing for Defra which is looking for ways to assess soil health. Please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be involved. Defra is investing £200,000 to create meaningful metrics to enable assessments of improvement in soil quality and to develop cost-effective ways of monitoring soil at farm and national level. Their ambition is outlined in the 25 year Environment Plan, where they also recognise the need to work with academics and other partners to build on existing knowledge such as the programme of soil monitoring in the Countryside Survey.
iCASP could play a useful role in shaping Defra’s thinking in this area by bringing together different sources of knowledge and ideas to develop some useful expert advice. If we were to develop an advisory note as an outcome of this workshop, we might even be able to have some influence on the Agricultural Bill to be published later this year.