Farm Subsidies Brexit

Bringing home the harvest may be very different after Brexit which will bring the biggest change in British farming since the second world war.

Whatever the government says and promises, there is a pretty good chance that Brexit means the end of subsidies for productive farming.  The current indicators are for “fluffy” grants for “environmental” protection and projects.  All very politically correct and, as usual, devoid of facing reality of the need for food security balanced with environmental care. Forget for a moment that the only real way to protect the environment is to stop and reverse population growth. Look instead at what options farming might have in the event of loss of cash support.

Farming can become more efficient at lower cost. (Nothing new in that and we can keep improving.) Farming can produce more per ha. (We will keep doing that too.) Farming can add value, – by vertical integration.  Farming can diversify. We really do need to be looking more actively with fresh eyes at all of these.

Land Research Ltd 27 Dec 17

Shale gas- Teresa May

Today, 24th December, the book “Survival” can be downloaded free.  Today, you can read, for free, a chapter on shale gas which is a balanced view of what was known at the time, and that things have not changed much. No doubt, today or shortly, there will be howls of anger and disagreement from the anti’s in the groups who purport to stand up for the “environment” and some will post rude comments on Amazon and wherever. Well, they are entitles to deny the facts and be generally bigoted. The truth is that, in isolation, they are partly right; shale gas, if we had the option, would be best left in the ground and we would use “renewable” fuels. Unfortunately, that is only part of the truth.  The Earth is already grossly over-populated and people need food and energy. The UN says that around 10 million (yes, 100,000,000) people in central Africa are on the edge of starving to death. (Not a nice way to die.)  Food production takes energy. Electric cars need electricity.  We need these things now, not at some time a few decades down the line. Shale gas is a transition fuel with a clean burn.  We need to bridge the gap.  We need it to close the national debt before we become another Greece..  We need the jobs.  We need to use shale to re-build an economy which currently is superficially still OK but is actually sliding downwards quite quickly.  We need to use shale gas as a step in generating a genuinely sustainable economy and environment.  We need to all pull in the same direction to do that.  Would that we had leadership that could create that vision and lead us into it.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd 24 Dec 17

Farm land and food security

Not is, when will our children in the UK be short of food?

There is just the beginnings, maybe, of a constructive debate about the balance between “environment” and how that is interpreted in land use, and food production. Both world wars, particularly the second with the advent of U-boats, saw food security being a real issue.  “Food security” is one of those things that politicians will verbally agree is an issue but there is scant evidence that it figures much in their efforts to be elected to power and to keep power when they have got there.  However, we must be grateful for the colour of UK passports.

Yet, the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) of the UN, for which some of my students have spent their careers with, are calculating that we will need to double food production globally by 2050. Most thinking people conclude that achieving that, or anywhere near it, would be an inconceivable miracle. It is not going to happen.  So, whether the politicians and “environmentalists” can argue their positions as much as they like but unless we grasp population control and food security for the people, each in our own country, then sooner or later, probably too much later, the politicians will be out of power.  By that time, not just our children, but our own selves, will need a lot of money to buy food off global markets.  Putting land under buildings and into wildlife projects is great but the price in the long run will be greater.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, 23 Dec 17

P.S.  May 2018 bring some common sense into our national life.

 grid batteries – farming

Batteries are changing the way we will employ renewable energy sources.

The problem with solar and wind turbines is that they are never 24-7. To make matters worse, the human race tends to use a lot more power first thing in the morning and in early evening (at “peak”) than the rest of the day. Now we have the technology to produce batteries to take in power from the grid at off peak times and feed it back in during the peak demand – economically.

For farmers, as a rough guide, 1 acre = 30MW and typically sites will be 10-49 MW sites. As a very rough guide, 1 MW of battery would earn £2000 pa, index linked, for 20 years. So, if you have from half to one and half acres (allowing for access), give me an e-mail on


“Survival” for free!

Download free.

On 7th, 8th and 10th December, you can download “Survival” Sustainable Energy, Wastes Shale Gas and The Land” at Amazon Kindle for free!  Suggest do it to a big screen because of the diagrams.

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.

Nest discussion on this blog; Farming off-grid

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, December 17

Carbon dioxide, cars and trees

The soil is a great collector or “sink” of Carbon dioxide. Hoiw do we manage this? Could we use CL:AIRE to do it better?

According to the World Resources Institute, “Stopping deforestation, restoring forests and improving forestry practices could remove 7 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually—the same as taking 1.5 billion cars off the road.” Now, World Bank figures on global waste production show that there is somewhere about 1.5 billion tonnes pa of MSW (Municipal Solid Waste).  About half of that would be Carbon which, as Carbon dioxide, would be around 1.4 billion tonnes.  Industrial waste production globally could easily double that, probably more. If that waste was composted, instead of burned or land-filled, it would not only lock up the Carbon, it could be used to fertilise the tree and crop growth.  It would also save wasting at least 21,000 kW hours on producing every one of the 185 million tonnes (FAO figures) of Nitrogen nutrient in the fertilisers we manufacture every year. (Yes, that is 385,000,000,000 kWh – at least!)

Only farmers and foresters have the skills and scale to do these things.  Better respect and care for them.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, 28 November 17