Category Archives: Environment

Populist Trump and global warming

Will the seriousness of our situation ever be realised while we elect people who were not educated in the happenings of the real world and who have done a proper job?

A serious problem with populist utterances (of which Donald Trump is the best example, maybe ever) is that they tend to over-simplify answers to complex problems.  I refer specifically to climate change. What Trump does is appeal to the masses about protection of jobs and, in the short run, he may have a point, especially if he chooses to ignore the jobs being created in renewable energy. (In the USA, there are now more jobs in solar than in coal production.)  If Mr Trump and others want a quick fix for climate change, recycling waste to farm and forestry land and locking up the Carbon as organic matter would be a good start. If the UK Environment Agency in the UK could also revert to previous regulation on composting which would allow a farm to start composting without spending £ hundreds of thousands on concrete, that would help the environment, too. (Concrete takes a lot of energy to manufacture and put in place and with good practice, concrete is not actually necessary for large scale composting.  However, it will allow faster work with heavier equipment and a wider range of input materials.)

For more on “Only farmers can do this”, see “Survival”.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd. 14th February 2018

Moon power

The moon moves the tides twice a day. We are missing out on this power.

The UK has some of the highest tides in the world.  Tidal power using barrages can have problems with sedimentation but inlet-outlet design can substantially solve this .  Wild life changes but does not lose out. We loose out by not doing it. On every count, it is better than nuclear.

Bill Butterworth,  Land Research Ltd.  22 January 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drug residues in rivers

Small amounts of drugs in our drinking water, built up through the food chain, may explain many a malaise of our society, including transgender growth, depression and many others. Maybe not? Nevertheless, it can;t be good.

Researchers in Australia have detected 69 medications in small aquatic creatures in rivers. The residues identified included antidepressants, painkillers, antibiotics, and blood pressure-lowering agents. The highest levels were found in insects near wastewater plants, but low levels were also detected in those from more pristine areas.  There is a food-chain effect with river-borne pharmaceuticals most likely to accumulate in flies and beetles while they are underwater larvae, then transfer to spiders that feed on them after they emerge as adults, and, of course, on upwards into their predators like fish, platypuses, birds, bats and frogs.  Eventually, no doubt, into humans.

How to stop this?  Well, firstly to reduce the use of drugs to what is strictly necessary.  Secondly, by increasing aerobic digestion in waste water treatment works.  Carefully controlled composting can crack these molecules.  There are now new digestion processes developing.  On the scale required, only farmers can do this.

 

For more detail, go to https://www.newscientist.com/article/2184420-more-than-60-prescription-drugs-are-getting-into-river-foodchains/

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd. 11 November ‘18

AD Insanity

 

Putting “waste” into an AD plant to make “renewable ” energy can make sense, despite the energy cost of the plant. However, growing crops to feed the plant is both insane and immoral.

The energy cost of the steel, plastics used in the construction of an AD plant, plus the energy involved in construction, can sometime make environmental sense and make a small contribution to energy security, However, it is as well to remember that 1 tonne of Nitrogen fertiliser nutrient, made in a modern and efficient USA fertiliser factory, according to UN-sponsored research, typically takes 21,000 (yes, twenty one thousand!) kWh to produce and deliver.  N fertiliser produced in eastern block countries may use as much as 20 tomes more power. So, using fertilisers, to grow crops, to harvest using diesel to cut and transport to an AD plant, to digest to produce methane, to burn in an engine to drive a generator to produce even less electricity is insanity based on ignorance. What is more, that land could be used to produce food and we need food security and so do 100,000,000 people in central Africa which the UN reports are on the edge of starvation death.  That is immorality on a global scale sanctioned by ignorant government. in Brussels and Whitehall.

(There is a chapter on renewables in general and AD in particular in “Survival”.)

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, 31 July 18

 

 

Shale gas and earthquakes

Bentonite is often used in the drilling fluid used in drilling for shale gas, Bentonite is a pure natural clay. you can eat it, it is not toxic (but it will may you constipated).

See  https://landresearchonline.com/shale-gas/ 

Land Research Ltd, 27 June 18

 

Organic N and crop growth

As the previous post here showed, Organic N, then, is different.  It just sits there in the store, alive with micro-organisms and giving some (but very low losses) to the soil atmosphere and groundwater.  However, it is different in a staggeringly complex and important way.  When conditions favour both plant and fungi, the mycorrhizae feed at one end of their hyphae on the organic matter and the other end of each hypha either crosses the root hair wall into the plant body, or wraps round the root hair (much like the placenta of a mammal).  This is a closed conduit! Not only is this why natural ecosystems do not leak nutrients and pollute the ground water, they also feed the plant with complex molecules, already some way down the route for forming cellulose and amino acids – so accelerating growth. Even more staggering, these mycorrhizae can suck nutrients out of some plants (weeds?) and transfer then to others (crops?).

There is enough urban waste in the world to supply enough nutrients to feed the world – without manufacturing fertilisers. (But we do actually need both.)

See the next blog in this series for more on profitable, eco-mimic fertiliser mechanisms and also “Survival” by bill Butterworth, published on Amazon.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd,   29 May 2018

 

The Soil N Store

S Michael Gove’s staff look at the environment v. Farming, they might do woerse than to read this series of posts on N fertilisers.

When ammonium nitrate hits the soil moisture, it forms two “ions”.  The ammonium carries a positive charge and is an “anion”.  The nitrate carries a negative charge and is a “cation”. Sands have a very low ability to hold onto nutrients whether they be anions or cations..  Clays have some useful colloidal capacity which has some ability to hold onto anions (so it will hold some ammonium ion) but not much ability to hold cations (so it will hold very little nitrate).

“Humus” is a very complex and variable black tarry material made up of large, Carbon-based chain molecules (so in chemists’ language they are “organic Carbon” molecules) forming hydrocarbons, carbohydrates and proteins.  The proteins carry one or more Nitrogen molecules. These molecules are insoluble in water.  So this humus-N will not leach out in rain or irrigation. More than that, humus is very colloidal, so it will hold both ammonium and nitrate ions and reduce the leaching of synthetic N.

So, pushing up the organic matter in soils is a real economic and environmental plus.

See the next post on this blog for how organic N storage work sand promotes crop growth.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd,   May 2018