Moisture in our soils

Can we organic matter to make top soil reservoirs for next year?

At this time of introduction of a hosepipe ban in the NW of England, maybe a moment (if we get a wet day during harvest) to think about not running short of water in our soils next year. So, a check list for before serous rain starts.

  1. Know where water is coming from. Of course, it is the rain. Is it? Is wat3r coming from other land onto yours?  Can it be diverted or managed better? What about ground water.
  2. What route does the water take off your land? Do you want it to leave?
  3. Is lack of maintenance of ditches and drainage a significant issue?
  4. What speed is the water when it leaves your land? Will it case flooding lower down?
  5. Can you harvest the water?
  6. Does water leaving your land carry nutrients at a loss?
  7. What is the organic matter level in each of your fields? Will that level help manage water at the right time for cultivations, crop growth and harvest?
  8. How can you change the organic matter of your soils?

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd 17 July 18


Brexit sadness

I have to admit that while my original objections (corruption at the centre and the weight of prescriptive regulations) were valid and still stand, my hope was that everyone would get pulled up to think about it and find another solution.  There was then, and is so now, as far as I can see, a choice between two options.  Firstly, Brexit.  Everyone here is ashamed of the UK government’s shambolic infighting. Similarly at fault is the centre of the EU itself.  This idea of “make it difficult for the UK because we don’t want anyone else to leave” seriously implies that Brussels realises that there is something wrong and instead of getting everyone (ALL EU Members) round a table and see if  a better way forward can be found, they sit and complain that it is all the UK’s fault.As far as I can see, there is little hope of Brussels exercising some common sense, taking the initiative and inviting the UK to discuss with all the Members how we can all produce a better EU framework. If we, all the EU, do not do that, the entire world order will be different with a less safe global environment and weakened western-economies.  this is a really sad situation.

Bill Butteworth, Land Research, 13 July 18



I share your sadness.

How to manage pandemic planning

Salisbury NHS; the most famous, and probably the safest, A & E entrance in the world – if you have Novichok poisoning. Being prepared costs commitment and cash.

When it comes to flu pandemics, fortunately we can and do have the factories in place and producing vaccines.  When a new strain comes along, it is possible to take an existing vaccine and tag on one or more proteins to try to mimic the new strain and get out immune systems responding.

Watch out.  Whether it be a disease of cattle, bees, humans or whatever species, it has to start somewhere and it might be your stock, family or you. Hold your nerve. Watch for and observe symptoms.  Consult the web. Ask your vet ot doctor for advice.

Speak out against denial. Many, including politicians, will prefer to think it will never happen. Write to your MP and stress that the health services need funding to make preparations.

Plan with your local hospital or veterinary surgery. Ask what you can do to help prepare in your neighbourhood.

Plan how you can steer clear of others if and when. Plan how you can do your bit to keep society and the economy working but protect yourself.

Bill Butterworth, Land Network Ltd.  7th July 18

The next pandemic and when it will happen

Foot and Mouth Disease of cattle, new global diseases of bees; these are pandemics.  Pandemics in the global human population are part of our history and future;

Date                 Place                       Pandemic Pathogen                             Deaths

BC430                   Athens             Typhus or Smallpox?                          75,000 to 100,000


541 to 542 Europe & Asia             Bubonic Plague                                  25 to 50 million

1347 to 1351 Europe/Asia/Africa  Black Death Bubonic Plague          75 to 200 million

1545 to 1576         Mexico            Smallpox                                               17 million

1665 to 1656         Europe             Bubonic Plague of London               100,000

1817 to 1824         Asia Europe    Cholera                                                100,000

1918 to 1920         World              Spanish flu                                          20 to 50 million

1980 to date          World              HIV                                                     35 million

2013 to 2016         West Africa     Ebola                                                   11,000 plus

Diseases like Ebola are truly awful but are transmitted in body fluids, touch of bodies or contaminated materials.  So, with very careful, detailed isolation these diseases are comparatively easy to contain.  Airborne disease, such as flu viruses, can be transmitted very quickly in high population densities where transfer to others, and mutation to more, or less, virulent strains are more likely to occur.  Cross infection is easier too, particularly in public transport places such as busses and underground railways.  Avian and swine flus, fortunately for us, mutated the right way and became less fatal.  Mutation to be more fatal will, sooner or later, happen. It is difficult to be precise about when the next one will occur but any time now would not be misleading. This year: possible.  Within 5 years; very likely

How to prepare to combat the next pandemic, see the next blog in this series.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd   5th 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).


Land Research Ltd, 27 June 18


Shale gas and the NHS

This can pay for more of ………….

……. this. (and in-patients, too!)

Cut the discussion and get down to the raw facts.  The NHS certainly has its faults and can be improved without the addition of cash BUT the NHS and the social services which can take people out of hospital beds for care after treatment ARE short of cash.  The NHS really is a national gem and needs significant and on-going extra cash.  If we want it to care for us, we have to care or it.

It does not have to be supported by extra taxes.  We are sitting on enormous energy reserves of shale gas.  We are importing shale gas in specially made ships from the USA and Arab countries. We are importing natural gas from Russia which owns part of Centrica which, of course, owns British Gas. THIS IS INSANE. The UK has the best shale gas technology in the world and, yes, we can do it safely. In terms of environmental balance, it is better to do shale gas here in the UK and use the revenues to build the NHS and develop renewable energy sources.

Bill Butterworth, Member of the British Society of Soil Science

Land Research Ltd, 24th June 18


The NHS is a national gem

This is the exact spot where two Novichok sufferers entered what is certainly the best place in the world to go under those circumstances.

It is time to accept that we cannot go on with the NHS the way we are doing.  The key, fundamental, world-best feature is “free at the point of need” with no-one denied service when the need it. That is a staggering commitment. Unfortunately, with a net population increase of 500,000 people  in the UK every year and an aging population (because the NHS is so good), we cannot afford what we are trying to do.  We need to have a public discussion about what the NHS should do and which treatments is should not be doing.  Perhaps the most tricky possibility is to find a way of the NHS working with patients who might wish to pay for a bit extra without either short-changing those who do not pay a bit extra, nor privatising the organisation by the back door,  Do I think it is possible?  Well, I am hoping so because I have been humbled recently by being appointed a Governor of the Salisbury NHS Hospital.  To be part of the discussion is a privilege and one that all of us should be part of.  Each of us has an obligation, partly for selfish reasons, to write to our own MP and tell them all what we think the NHS should do and what it should not do.  Aall of that without losing the competence, care and compassion of which the nation is justly proud.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd 19 June 18