Natural Capital Synthesis Report Project - Jessica Davies

Jessica Davies, Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business, Lancaster Environment Centre

Soil natural capital valuation needs for agri-food businesses 

Project Summary 

Soils are a key asset of natural capital as they provide numerous ecosystems services including water regulation, nutrient cycling, and carbon storage. Yet their valuation is often overlooked as few ecosystems services flow directly from soils to goods, or human benefits. The most prominent economic value that soils deliver is in the range of functions that support crop growth and food production. Soils are also intrinsically linked with multiple impact drivers including greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, and flood/drought mitigation. This makes identification of metrics to monitor and manage soil natural capital both challenging and critical.


This project will address this need for soil natural capital guidance in the agri-food sector by mapping the links between soil and the benefits derived. In collaboration with a leading multi-national agri-business we will identify what is needed to manage soil natural capital throughout the agri-food value chain (from farm to shelf). We will review how existing methods can be used to value soil natural capital, and define key gaps in knowledge to be addressed by further research. This synthesis will help realise the comprehensive valuation of soil natural capital needed to create sustainable and resilient food production.

"It’s like a bank account, we’re drawing on our soil savings when we’re farming...but we have no idea of how much soil we’ve got in the bank or the rate of our withdrawals"  Dr Jess Davies


Presentation introducing project ideas

Link to Blog  Natural Capital funding for Pentland Centre Researchers