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Soil conservation in two English catchments: Linking soil management with policies

Posthumus, H., Deeks, L.K., Fenn, I., Rickson, R.J.
Land degradation & development 2011 v.22 no.1 pp. 97-110
Common Agricultural Policy, agricultural policy, economic incentives, environmental policy, farmers, farms, land management, soil, soil compaction, soil conservation, soil erosion, soil management, stakeholders, water management, water pollution, watersheds, England
Soil degradation, specifically soil compaction and soil erosion can have significant impacts in some parts of England. The southwest of England is particularly vulnerable to soil erosion and compaction due to the region's erodible soils. This paper discusses the soil degradation problems, the policies addressing these problems and the stakeholders involved in the Parrett and Axe catchments. Key informants, including farmers, farm advisors and policy makers, were interviewed on their perceptions on soil degradation and soil mitigation measures, and the effectiveness of agricultural policies to encourage sustainable soil management. Until recently, mitigating soil degradation has been indirectly addressed through various agricultural and environmental policies, such as the cross-compliance regulations that accompany the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and agri-environment schemes. Recent initiatives, in particular the Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) scheme, have contributed to reversing the trend of soil degradation locally by engaging farmers and providing better advice on land management. However, the main focus of current policy initiatives and accompanying measures tends to focus on the control of diffuse water pollution rather than protecting or conserving soil in situ, and gaps remain in the implementation of effective targeted measures. A more integrated approach to land and water management, consisting of voluntary and regulatory measures, involving farmers and other stakeholders, tailored to local circumstances and supported by economic incentives and advisory services, is recommended.