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It’s very easy to forget about what’s in the ground beneath our feet and why it’s so important to protect it. One tablespoon of soil contains more organisms than there are people on Earth; billions of bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms combine with minerals, water, air and organic matter to create a living system that supports plants and, in turn, all life. Healthy soil can store as much as 3,750 tonnes of water per hectare, reducing the risk of flooding, and the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said that 89% of all agricultural emissions could be mitigated if we improved the health of our soil. Good soil management also increases disease resistance in livestock and ultimately drives profits for farmers – yet soil and its impact on the health of our animals has, over recent decades, been one of the most neglected links in UK agriculture. Over the last 50 years agriculture has become increasingly dependent on chemical fertilisers, with applications today around 10 times higher than in the 1950s. Farmers often think the chemical fertiliser NPK (nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium) provides all the nutrition a plant requires, but it also has a detrimental effect on the long-term health of the land: research suggests there are fewer than 100 harvests left in many of the world’s soils.