2019 Video: Spot News/Feature Reporting - Gold

Mairead Dundas and Marina Bertsch tackled the disappearance of top soil in their award-winning France 24 video. Through interviews with soil scientists, local farmers and specialists for food producer Nestle, they described the impact of industrial farming on soils in one region of France as an example of a much larger global trend. “One third of the world’s top soil has already been degraded,” Dundas explained, and that could have detrimental impacts on food production, erosion control and carbon sequestration. The answer? Some farmers suggest an alternative farming practice called conservation agriculture. Although currently fewer than five percent of France’s farmers practice conservation agriculture, the movement is gaining traction, leaving Dundas and Bertsch to ask, “can the method go mainstream?” Richard Monastersky, chief features editor for Nature, said the entry “packed a lot into a very short segment.” It discussed an important problem, he said, “and how scientifically informed techniques could help improve things.” Dundas and Bertsch said that “after reporting on the environment for a decade we thought we had covered most bases. But the health of our soil and its endangered status had somehow escaped us.  When we learned that one of the world’s largest food companies was investing in a solution to this so-called ‘invisible’ crisis, we realized that what was at stake was essentially the future of our food supply.”