Category Archives: Regulation

Farming; Adding Safety as Value



Bread from Morrisons. Yes, the UK does produce the safest food in the world. Here, the rules are more sophisticated and better policed than anywhere else.

The whole of agricultural policy following two world wars, was food security and “food” was identified as farm crops as harvested. . While we forget that lesson at our peril, we now have to think in terms of Adding Value.  Doing that by taking a harvested crop (such as vegetables) and processing and packaging them is certainly a step in the right direction.  However, there is another way of looking at Adding Value and that is at an industry level for the national economy. One of the most important ways we can do that is to accept, co-operate with and seek to influence and re-direct regulation and regulators to deliver what is, and should be recognised as already the case, the safest food in the world.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd.,  26 April 2017

Click here for Survival

Nitrogen and the Environment

Shredded waste carpet, containing wool (as an organic nitrogen source). If the carpet contains synthetic fibers, too, then so much the better for soil structure and holding water (so reducing irrigation need and reducing flood risk lower down in the catchment).

Nitrogen and the environment is in the news again.  The truth is that we can have more than enough Nitrogen to grow even higher yielding crops, provided it is organically bound. That means that farming either has to find organic sources of N (not always available and likely to be expensive), or make them.  The way to make them is potentially both safe and profitable.

The one great blessing of the expanding numbers and wealth of the human race is that that expansion is mirrored by an increase in urban and industrial wastes. Most of that waste can, despite the reticence of the regulators, be safely recycled to land.  To do so not only solves the waste recycling problem, it can and will grow better crops with higher yield, with less cultivation energy, less crop disease, and dramatically less Nitrogen run-off.

How do we know that?  Because it has been done. Search; How to make on-farm composting work

Land Research Ltd  13 March 17

Waste Regulation Paralysis

“Too much analysis c an case paralysis.”

That is a quote from “The Yellow Book” by Robert Holden.  Spot on in our society where government seeks to write regulations to cover all eventualities.  Now, you do not have to be very bright to understand that is impossible and what happens is the stifling of innovation and inhibition of entrepreneurial activity which, in turn, pays taxes to fund government.  For “government”, read elected and, most certainly, civil service.

Logically, this observation applies to the waste industry, to the health service, welfare services, health and safety. The answer is simple.  A new environmental protection Act might only have one sentence; “Thou shalt not pollute”.

Survival! – free download


“Survival – Sustainable Energy, Wastes, Shale Gas and The Land” is available for free download for the next 5 Sundays starting 15 Jan.

According to UN sponsored research, I tonne of N nutrient, made in a modern, efficient USA fertiliser factory, typically takes 21,000 (yes, twenty one thousand) kWh to manufacture and deliver to farm. Yet, we lose around half to groundwater with rain or irrigation. This will dramatically affect how we farm.  Part of the answer is to recycle waste to farm land.  How to do this safely, how shale gas will affect the land, how sustainable energy sources can help farming are all reviewed in the book.  All these and how the global population  will reach crisis, and when, can be downloaded for free on the Sundays 15, 22 and 29 Jan, and 5 and 12 Feb.  Control and Click here  Survival” by Bill Butterworth Amazon.

The circular economy: 10. Landfill is not a resource bank.


The circular economy: 10.  Landfill is not a resource bank.


Itis a beautiful world and population pressure is changing it. How can we manage the change better?

The science: It is certainly the case that we can “mine” old landfill sites to reclaim resources. Sometimes.  Some of the resources. Not very efficient. Globally, maybe in excess of half the materials we enlist for use get lost to landfill or incineration. Nearly all the energy is lost.

The bad news: Globally, we are still geared up to derive energy form burning hydrocarbon fuels.  We do have enough for decades, maybe a century, but they will increasingly expensive to extract and, we cannot get away from it, they produce greenhouse gas. Further, CCS – Carbon Capture and Storage is not likely to solve the global problem, ever.)

The good news: We can reduce waste in manufacturing. For example, we used to make solid furniture from solid wood, shaved down with the shavings discarded. Now, most domestic furniture is made by chipping nearly all the original timber and making strand board and MDF.  High quality MDF really is a very useful material.  Next step currently is to take discarded furniture and use it for Energy from Waste (EfW). Better still if we could collect it all and make new product out of it. If we could do that at local level to cut out the energy and pollution cost of long distance logistics, we really would be winning.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, 29 May 2016




Shale gas means Brussels is less important

Those who argue that there will be a recession if the UK leaves the EU, may be right for both the UK and the rest of the EU.  Certainly, there will be uncertainty for a while – so will there be if we stay in. The uncertainly if we stay in will be as to how long it will be before the EU will collapse under the weight of corrupt and stifling bureaucracy.        Brexit, however, will not bring a recession in the UK if we have shale gas. The Planning Committee of the East Yorkshire Council had the common sense and courage to give the green light for shale production and this means that Brussels and Mr Putin (there is evidence he funds the anti-fracking groups) have much less power over us. That plus less bureaucracy in the UK would breathe new life into the UK economy.

Bill Butterworth     Land Research Ltd    24 May 2016

Shale gas & pollution – What comes out of the well?

360 scooping from cuttings seive

Top right of the picture is a sand screen. In the pit are cuttings and spent drilling fluids from a very long way down in the earth. The thick mud was spread to land safely and in an entirely environmentally friendly way supervised by the Environment Agency.


What comes out of the hole is, hopefully, mostly gas.  Before that happens, and indeed for the life of the well, lots of other things come out. Much of the other stuff is probably not environmentally unfriendly.

Firstly, the shaft will be bored through a range of strata, some of which may contain elements or compounds which might be toxic in some way.  The drilling fluids which are used to carry the drill cuttings out of the well as it is bored (the “flowback”), will also bring out these other materials – if they are there.  Secondly, the high pressure water used in volume to create the hydraulic fracturing will also dissolve materials from the shale, especially Sodium chloride – common salt.  Anyone who dismisses these potential dangers is, at best, irresponsible, and at worst, criminal.

There are two possible approaches to dealing with these “arisings” out of the well.  Firstly, it is important to note that in the UK (and indeed all of the EU) these arisings are legally a Controlled Waste and that means subject to regulation – of which there is plenty and the Environment Agency knows that they will be watched every step of the way by a lot of aggressive people (some emotional, not very well informed and motivated by overseas interests).

The first way of dealing with the arisings is to isolate them in a restricted area.  That could be in a lagoon or enclosed space and left there forever.  In such a case, IF there is any risk, it is called a “point risk” and is always at its maximum. Alternatively, the cuttings could be used in, say, the construction of sea wall and flood defence work.  It is likely that our regulators will favour this route because it is relatively easy for those drafting the regulations to identify the risks and write the regulations to contain the risks – even if it means permanently.  The disadvantage of this route, hover, is that if there is a concentration of a material which might be toxic, it is still there as a “point risk”.

The second way is to remember that nature is remarkably resilient and, given time and enough spreading out, will deal with almost anything and to its sustainable advantage. This known as a “dispersed risk”. The route is likely to be favoured by environmental scientists with the right training and experience because it provides for the identification, management and the sustainable elimination of the risks by creating an environmental benefit.  There advantage of this route is that if (again “if”) there is a concentration of a material which might be toxic, then a “dispersed risk” can be identified and managed by competent people and processed out of existence.

This area of discussion will be very interesting to watch. It revolves around whether the arisings are seen as “wastes” (a word with negative implications) or a “resource” (a word which implies benefit and sustainability) i.e. not to be lightly lost or left un-used.

The Sunday shale gas blog from Bill Butterworth 30 February 2016