The Land, population and policy

We cannot have houses and farmland for an unlimited population. We are losing farmland.

As I drive around the country, the rash of “toy town” building estates continues to eat up farmland much as the red blotches of measles cover a child’s body.  Apparently, the “build more houses” policy will solve all the country’s economic problems. I remember Stephen Nortcliff saying at a meeting of the BSSS (British Society of Soil Science)  “when land is built on, we can never have it back for farming.”

In round figures, there was a net immigration into the UK last year of over 500,000 and we built a little over 100,000 houses. On top of that there appears to be a growing policy as part of Brexit that we trade exports of manufactured goods and services for imports of food and turn the countryside into a play area for urban people.  We do this as a short term politically correct expedient and our long term peril.  Write to your MP about it.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd  22 April 18




Despite the rain now, water may cost more in future

Britain has too much rain this spring. Nevertheless, farming may pay more for its water in future.

Facing a Global Water Crisis” in a piece written by Leah Schleifer.  With credit to them, I try here to relate those lessons to British farming and maybe farming elsewhere in developed counties that do not really think water may be a significant economic problem sooner rather than later.

 Reason 6. Water Is Wasted

The water in our water main grid is “potable”, i.e. drinkable.  Yet half the water used in domestic households is used to flush toilets, enters the sewage system and is treated and dumped into rivers. It is true that some of that water may be extracted lower down the river and re-used, but this is an incredibly wasteful system.

The washing down of dairies and other livestock enterprises on farms is similarly wasteful.

Conservation farming action;

  1. Harvest water off shed roofs and concrete areas,
  2. Wash down sensibly, limiting use to what is necessary.
  3. Get everyone to remember that water is a valuable and increasingly expensive resource.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd.,  7 April 18

Land values- farming-Brexit


The Environment Secretary has repeatedly signally lately that support for farming will progressively shift from production support to environmental protection.  As we already import more than half of what we eat, that presumably means that the post-Brexit trade deals we hear so much of lately will sacrifice UK agricultural production to imports, in exchange for exports of cars, armaments, fashion, university places and computer programming.  That, in turn, implies a change in land values as production will be less economic and cash for the environment will be squeezed in favour of university tuition fees (or whatever is PC at the time). That implied fall in land values will then allow the builders to buy up land and build houses. Obviously an environmental improvement which will allow otters, beavers and bitterns to occupy urban gardens.

I remain unconvinced that government is thinking anything through.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd,  1st April 18

In a divorce, true friends stand out from acquaintances

Under threat from Russia, the EU shows support in a way the USA does not. that does not bode well for Brexit.

Like any divorce, Brexit is a time for finding out who your real friends are. Try clicking on the link below.

The Liberal Democrats in the UK are pushing for a referendum when we know the final version of the Brexit deal. As we have pretensions to be a democracy, that sounds a good idea.  By the way, EU support for farming and home production is worth consideration, too.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd 25 March 18

Bad government

“The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest
Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work instead of living on public assistance.” – Cicero, 55 BC

So, evidently, we’ve learned nothing in the past 2,070 years.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, 24 March 18

If you have a vote, you should read this.


Every newspaper has lied to us about Brexit, except the Guardian.

Insanity of abandoning production support for farming

If any Minister forgets this effect of a slip in the jet-stream, he or she may well heave the death of maybe thousands of old people on their hands.

The cold snap at the beginning of March is easily forgotten,

BUT remember for a moment the empty shelves in the supermarkets for a day or two afterwards. Credit to them and their supply companies and truck drivers for getting it right so quick…

BUT, suppose the jet steam which dipped south for a couple of days and let in the “Beast from the East” had stuck for a couple of weeks…

BECAUSE the supermarkets work on Just In Time (JIT) supply chains, people would have actually starved and vulnerable people would have died.  Over-dramatising?  Well, possibly.  However, some years ago, I was working for TACIS (the EU technology transfer program) in Tajikistan and, because of a deliberate cut-off of the gas energy supply from further into the communist block, several million people dies in their sub=zero temperature winter. These things do happen.

AND, if and when we leave the EU and we do trade deals with overseas people, exporting services and manufactured goods, and allowing more food imports, and sell farm production down the line in favour of “environmental” correctness, and the same dip in the jet stream occurs, then more people will die.

Why do we put up with Ministers and a Civil Service that has no common sense?

Oh, by the way, climate is changing, it is quite likely the jet stream will dip again.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd,  March 18