DEFRA aims to improve quality of soil used with new code

A new soil code of conduct is being created.

DEFRA is developing a code of practice for the sustainable management and use of soils in construction sites, which should lead to more value being place on the horticultural properties of soil. Soil consultant Tim O’Hare, partner of Oxfordshire-based Tim O’Hare Associates LLP, is working with Land Research Associates to produce the first draft version for DEFRA. The aim is to ensure the protection, sustainable use and management of soils during construction. He said: “In today’s construction industry, soil is intensively tested for contamination but people forget to look at its horticultural quality.” New housing developments have the soil tested for chemical contamination but checks are often not made to see if grass or plants could actually be grown in it. O’Hare added: “Under the current scheme you can actually get away with using sand or subsoil as topsoil in back gardens — providing it meets the chemical contaminants it will pass.” It is hoped the new code of practice will increase the industry’s understanding of the importance of horticultural soil quality, as well as improving soil management, treatment, quality and handling. The draft new code is due to be completed by the end of the year.

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