Category Archives: farming

Land, energy and urban wastes

The USAF cemetry at Maddingly, Cambridge UK. What kind of world are we handing on to our children?

Globally, we are on the edge of a renewable energy revolution. It is not that we did not have the technology, what is different is that the technology, bit by bit, is becoming economic.  This bodes well for the human race.  However, there is a problem in that much of the economically attractive solutions, especially solar panels, need land. There is a problem with land – they have stopped making it. So we need to use alternatives including never making a roof out of tiles or inactive sheet and, instead, making it of solar panels. We need the land to produce food, fibres and timber – but in a different way.  Instead of using mineral Nitrogen which costs at least 21,000 kWh per tonne of N to deliver, we need to feed those crops on urban wastes. It has been done and can be scaled up safely. https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01H63EQX0/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

Nest discussion on this blog; Farming off-grid

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, December 17

Flood-prevention co-operatives

Contour farming in the China mountains. We could use the same techniques to protect lowland areas from flash flooding.

An income-earner for upland farms could be for protecting the lowlands from flash-flooding.  For flood prevention in the lowlands, an up-land flood-prevention co-op could deliver what the country needs, right now.  This can be done by a reverse-franchise set up which is less restrictive than a legal co-operative.

In a reverse franchise, a limited company is set up as the franchisor and it makes the rules.  Each farmer-franchisee gets one share (however big or small they are) in the franchisor and hence the name “reverse franchise”. The franchisor then forms a relationship with the Environment Agency to manage an upper catchment area including the mechanisms of (i) raising soil organic matter levels  using composted urban wastes from the lowlands, (ii) planting tree belts on contours to create flow barriers, and (iii) setting up sacrifice areas to hold water under extreme conditions to allow slow release.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd. 12 November 2017

Food security, global population and IVF

 

Global population and human survival are issues not just for our children but for this generation. There will be a global collapse. When?

The British people and government would do well to look to food security.  Note the graph; there will be . repeat WILL be, a global population collapse.  The evidence is compelling.  (See “Survival”).   There was a discussion on Radio 4 today about whether a woman could or should be able to get IVF on the NHS.  We already have twice as many people on this earth than is, by reasonable thought, sustainable. There are plenty of kids already here who need a family.  For everyone’s sake, don’t make any more!

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, 31 October 2017

 

Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink

Water and power; fundamentals of all production and especially farming.

On 24 August 2017 the Water Resources Institute published a piece on their website looking at “7 Reasons We’re 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 4. Water infrastructure is under pressure.

It is certainly true that water companies in the UK are spending £billions to reduce leakage.  However, the Victorians where good at building reservoirs and we, now, are not.

Conservation farming action;

  1. Build traditional, on farm, reservoirs if there is a stream. (Old tyres can be used to bind clay in a dam. (See link below.).)
  2. Clean gutters and harvest water.
  3. Build top-soil reservoirs using composted waste. (See https://www.amazon.co.uk/Survival-Sustainable-Energy-Wastes-Shale/dp/1523264217 )

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd.,  September 17

 

The real truth about shale gas

You can download a copy for free this Sunday, 8th October,  by clicking below on “Buy at Amazon”.

water-supply-irrigation-direct drilling

If it is like this on top, what is it like deep down? Much of the crps in the South east and East Anglia depend on extraction from rivers and boreholes. there really is a question of how long this can be sustained.

On 24 August 2017m the Water Resources Institute published a piece on their website looking at “7 Reasons We’re 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 3. Groundwater Is Being Depleted.

About 30 percent of Earth’s fresh water lies deep underground in aquifers.

The south east of England is an area of particular concern. It is a highly populated area with relatively low annual rainfall. As a result, the supply of water in the south east of England is limited. Some parts have less usable water per person than countries such as Syria.  Generally, the water level in the aquifers in the chalk areas of the UK are experiencing falling.   The falling level of water near our bore-holes is not going to be helped by more rainfall because high intensity rain tends to run off into the rivers and to sea.

Conservation farming action;

  1. Increase soil organic matter and reduce cultivations.
  2. Trees are a mixed water-blessing; they will reduce water run-off and reduce flash-flooding lower down, and they will respire around 50 % more than a cereal crop.
  3. Look for crops that need less water or are deep-rooted (such as forage maize instead of grass).

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd.,  September 17

 

Organic Farming Failure

 

“The crop on the right was not worth harvesting and abandoned. 4000 people dies as a result. 

I have shown a picture of this farm field before but I now have a further reasons to visit it again.  The farm appears to have abandoned harvest and it appears that the crop yield would not justify the charges by the contractor brought in to combine the crop.  The farmer claims to farm “organically”.

Now, according to the UN, over 100,000,000 people in central Africa are on the edge of starvation.  Most will actually die and it would be kinder to actually shoot them – starvation is not a very nice way to leave this earth. The farm in the picture has, at the time of writing, over 100 ha apparently abandoned. How many people would that feed?  Well, each ha of that land would yield 8, maybe 10 tonnes of wheat, let us say 8, year in, year out.  So, 800 tonnes per annum. How many would that support?  Well, it depends on the dietary level. To survive without getting fat but having enough calories to work, probably around 5 people for a full year on each tonne is a reasonable guide.

That means that if the farmer of the land in the picture had been employing current UK technology, he could be saving the lives of 4000 people, maybe more.  So by farming badly, he has murdered 4000 people?  Too harsh?  Maybe but the observation does underline two things that are as relevant today as they have ever been;

  1. We who farm the land have a responsibility to the global human population to use its productive capacity for everyone’s benefit. Good, safe food is needed and a lot of it.
  2. The question about organic v. technology and chemicals is a real one but we need production. Acceptation of reduced production by any method of farming, really does condemn others to death. So, there is a question of the balance of risks. Certainly, there are risks in using pesticides and mineral fertilisers.  The risk of starvation is very real to some. So, provided these risks are continually managed which option?  Well, British farming probably does produce the safest food in the world. Technology in responsible hands is the only solution to reducing starvation.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd,  September 17