Category Archives: sustainability

Soil trace elements and human health

We have the power and the technology. Do we have the micro components?


Common sense tells us that if we use manufactured mineral fertilisers to produce food, eventually, the soil store of trace elements will decline, followed by a decline in the harvested crop, followed by a decline in the health of th4e crop, followed by a decline in the intake of trace elements by humans, followed by a decline in the health of humans.

This common sense understanding of the loss of micro-nutrients in human diets has been shown many times and, again, recently by a paper on soil Selenium decline by Steve McGrath et al and reported in the current edition of The Auger, journal of the British Society of Soil Science.

What do we do about it?  See https://www.amazon.co.uk/Survival-Sustainable-Energy-Wastes-Shale/dp/1523264217 with government employing the BSSS nationally to monitor and guide on not too much and not too little.

 

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd

Diesels and clean burn

It will take several human generations to move from internal combustion engines to electric drive. However, we could change maybe 90% of such engines to clean-burn shale gas in, say, 20 years.

All this fuss about diesel fumes if stretching the truth a bit too far.  Firstly, smoking and obesity are far greater evils, in terms of human health and death.  Secondly, modern, Euro 6 diesels do have more particulates in their emissions than latest design petrol engines but not much more and they produce around half the Carbon dioxide per mile.   Thirdly, never mind cars, what about trucks?  Go electric?  How long would it take to change 13 million cars over to electric drive? In any case, where do you think the electricity comes from?

There is a fast, clean alternative. It creates UK jobs and dramatically reduces imports.  Shale gas is a clean burn.

Land Research Ltd  23 April 17

P.S. “Survival – Sustainable Energy, Wastes, Shale Gas and The Land” by Bill Butterworth, published by Land Research, is available in paperback from good bookshops or Amazon on the web as paperback (at around £10) or electronic version (at only £2.46) for computer or Kindle. For the next couple of Sundays, it can be downloaded free at Kindle.

3 Million Starving;Food, Famine and Failure

Municipal waste on its way to Frog Island on the Thames estuary There is enough waste in western society, to fertilise enough crop,s to feed western society,

The UN warning of 3 million people facing what will for most of them be unavoidable starvation and death is not new.  Malthus predicted it in 1798 and we have been doing a bit since then but not enough. If you are comfortable, why do anything at all about it?  In any case, as an individual, what you do is insignificant.

An international consequence is that empty bellies always lead to war.  In the history of the world, that has always been true.  Could we fill bellies globally?  Technically, the answer is yes, we can.  Military conflict often gets in the way.  Political will in developed countries always gets in the way.  It is almost a lifetime away that Bob Geldoff stood up in the EU Parliament and observed that the situation of global hunger and the plenty of Western counties was “obscene”.  It is now worse.

How do we fix it?  Simply use urban wastes to fertilise land and grow better crops.  It has been done in the UK and Egypt, and lots of other places. We need to scale it up and urgently. It would save a lot of imports in the UK, too, The environment would be better off, See “Survival”.

Land Research Ltd 25 MaRCH 2017

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

Wastes, fertilisers and sustainability.

 

mist

Urban waste could, safely, be sufficient fertiliser to feed the people who made the waste in the first place. If we do not do this, soon, then, logically, the human race will die out.

Nearly all we have came from the land and must eventually go back.  Nearly all municipal wastes, including sewage, will make good compost and good compost can be used to reclaim the desert and make arid land productive.  “Nearly all” does, of course, mean some exceptions such as lead or Cadmium-based batteries.  However, many hydrocarbons and plastics are bio-degradable provided the right process and the right bugs are available in the bio-population or can be added. (Mealy bug larvae will live and multiply quite happily on expanded polystyrene.) Sewage is a great source of nutrients and micro-organisms for a successful bio-process.  Of course, testing and controls are a necessary part of a professional operation but it really is true that most urban waste scan safely be used to make enough fertiliser to feed the people who made the wastes in the first place.  That is sustainability. The challenge is to get the instruments of governments to understand and find a way of constructive regulation.  Soon rather than somewhen.

Oh, and by the way, composts will absorb and hold between 5 and 16 times their own weight of water.  That might be useful in creating jobs in upland composting in Cumbria, Lancashire, and anywhere in the upland catchment areas for any of our rivers running through urban areas, including London.

“Survival – Sustainable Energy, Wastes, Shale Gas and The Land” by Bill Butterworth, published by Land Research, has just been released and is available in paperback from good bookshops or Amazon on the web as paperback (at around £10) or electronic version (at only £2.46) for computer or Kindle.

 

Bring back the F Plan Diet

Mama Mia

To be made from plant protein or animal protein;, that is the question.

There is no doubt that awareness of what is good for the planet exists, particularly amongst the middle class, some of whom will actually do something.  Mostly, however, those with a lot of money (Trumpists) will pay lip service to the subject but carry on enjoying themselves.  Those with less money are just driven by cash and survival – care of the planet tomorrow is irrelevant.  The truth is that the mass of the electorate in western democracies is voting against the establishment.

A further truth is that meat production takes a lot more resources than crops and is not as conducive to a long, healthy life as is plant-based protein. In an episode of Years of Living Dangerously, Gisele Bündchen and Andrew Steer reveal that producing meat and dairy is responsible for 85 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions from Americans’ diets. Shifting to more plant-based foods can make a big impact. (But Donald Trump does not seem likely to move in that direction.)

To make the switch to plant-based protein, the global population needs to make wind (“farting”) socially acceptable, even sexy.  Pity the F-Plan diet was a short-lived fashion.  We need to bring it back.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd. 7 February 2017

Dig for Victory

p1010098

Times have changed but the need for survival in a changing world has not. The country needs a stable farming industry and that may become critical sooner rather than later.

Just suppose we might, quite shortly, need to produce more food, a lot more food, at home in the UK?  Why ask?  Well, try taking a look at the Guardian article by Paul Mason; “The Soviet Union collapsed overnight. Don’t assume western democracy will last forever”.  There is certainly a shift of power going on at present with “democratic” power shifting from the establishment to a “populist” move against globalisation and in the direction of protectionist nationalism. As that happens, we may not be able to trade in the established way and that includes food imports. It would be wise, as we approach Brexit, to stop building on good agricultural land and make sure agriculture is in good heart.  Remember “Dig for Victory”?  We might need that sooner rather than later and that might go for shale gas, steel, car manufacture, fashion, the pop industry and everything else we could make here.

 

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, 13 December 16