Ireland falls short of ensuring sufficient policy on soils which would support soil quality, protection and restoration, according to researchers at University College Cork (UCC).

The researchers conducted a study on foot of the EU’s soil strategy for 2030, the results of which led them to call for Government investment in soil management practices to ensure the objectives of the EU strategy are met in Ireland.

The UCC team argued that their study shows that too large of an emphasis on studying agricultural soils to the neglect of research on soils in boglands and forests.

The lack of research in these areas puts the achievement of 2030 soil health targets at risk, the researchers said.

Overlooked resource

Lead author of the study Hannah Binner stated that soil is often taken for granted as an overlooked resource.

“The vast majority of soil research in Ireland is linked to agriculture, which is not surprising, considering the importance of agriculture for the economy,” Binner stated.

“However, we fall short in other important areas, such as soil quality, protection, reuse, monitoring and restoration.”

Another researcher who contributed to the study Professor Maria McNamara warned that losing soil’s functions remains a risk to biodiversity.

“It is critical that we apply a more holistic approach to soil, focusing on sustainability,” she said.

“We need better systems for the reuse of construction soils, soil remediation and soil monitoring, to safeguard our soils for the future.

“It is high time that we look to soil as a vital resource beyond agriculture. Yes, we rely on healthy soil for food, crops and animals, but we also require healthy soils for biodiversity, for carbon storage and for long-term environmental and human health.”