Husbandry inputs and safe food

In a field in Wiltshire – I’d be ashamed if it were mine. More thistles and wild oats than wheat as a crop. Cultivations and sprays need to be used with a sensitivity to weather to get weed control; economically.

As I get older, I worry more about the standard of husbandry in farming – in some farms there seem to be some sliding of standards of cleanliness in crops.  Most of the crops I see as I travel around the country have, what I learned as a student to be described as “clean bottoms”, leaving an almost weed free stubble at harvest. During my vacations as a student at Reading, more years ago than I care to mention, I was lucky enough to serve under a farm manager of the name of Richard Noyce in Hampshire. I learned so much from him in terms of using the theory I had from Reading out in the field. Amongst other things, he knew how to use cultivators, chemicals and timing with the weather, to dramatically reduce the weed load on the following year’s crop. Many things are different, now, but we need food more than ever.  Despite this worry, most crops I see are of a high husbandry standard and Britain does have consistently amongst the highest yields of any nation on earth.  We probably do have the safest food in the world, too. Better tell the great British public.

Bill Butterworth, Land REsearch Ltd, 24 August 2017

Truth Politicians and Media

 

It is not just politicians, the tabloid press and media all do it; distort the truth far enough and it becomes a lie.

In the 24th June issue of New Scientist, a comment column observed “In this post-truth world …….. the power of facts is in retreat from public discourse”.

This is a potentially shattering observation in terms of not just the drowning of common sense but, quite likely, of the survival of the human race. Now, more than ever, science has to sell itself against attack by vested interests using social media.  Let us look as some examples.

  1. “Agricultural spay chemicals are dangerous and should never be used.”  It is true that they are dangerous and so is starvation.  Could we have a balanced, fact-based discussion?
  2. “Shale gas exploration is dangerous and will damage the environment and threaten our children’s health.” It is certainly true that shale gas exploration has risks and when we run out of energy to heat people’s homes, people will die. Could we have a balanced, fact-based discussion?

Why is it that we as a society vote into power politicians who distort the truth?  Why is it that we do not educate the next generation to NOT allow social media to distort the truth about events of every day?  Science is, or should be, fact-based common sense.  So, all scientists, do not distort the truth; tell it how it is.

 

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd., 10 August 17

 

Global Warming -farming-recycling

 

Jet contrails do produce “global dimming” which reduces global warming but, in the process, produce enormous amounts of CO2. That can be removed in enormous quantities actually quite easily.

 

In the 24 June issue of New Scientist, Ed Hawkins, University of Reading, UK, and Alan Robock, Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA, both are quoted as observing that we really do need, urgently, to invent a way to remove Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere on a huge scale.

The classic way of solving a problem is to find a mirror image problem and put the two together.  Link farming (globally we need more food) and urban waste production (as global population and wealth rise, we get more unban waste) in the right way and that could deliver the invention. Well, we already have it and it has been done and on a scale that could be applied globally.

Search https://www.amazon.co.uk/Survival-Sustainable-Energy-Wastes-Shale/dp/1523264217 The Carbon dioxide bit starts at page 45.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, 6 August 17

Global Warming can be arrested.

 

shale-gas agricultural-sprays

Dolly Parton, a woman of great wisdom, said “The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain”. Look again at the picture and the electricity pole. Our lives depend, at least to some degree, on power supply. Without it , we die. Energy and food supplies don’t just happen; there are risks and the worst risk is to do nothing. The real question is whether we can do things with professional standards.


 

In the 24th June issue of New Scientist, a comment column observed “In this post-truth world …….. the power of facts is in retreat from public discourse”.

This is a potentially shattering observation in terms of not just the drowning of common sense but, quite likely, of the survival of the human race. Now, more than ever, science has to sell itself against attack by vested interests using social media.  Let us look as some examples.

  1. “Agricultural spay chemicals are dangerous and should never be used.”  It is true that they are dangerous and so is starvation.  Could we have a balanced, fact-based discussion?
  2. “Shale gas exploration is dangerous and will damage the environment and threaten our children’s health.” It is certainly true that shale gas exploration has risks and when we run out of energy to heat people’s homes, people will die. Could we have a balanced, fact-based discussion?

Why is it that we as a society vote into power politicians who distort the truth?  Why is it that we do not educate the next generation to NOT allow social media to distort the truth about events of every day?  Science is, or should be, fact-based common sense.  So, all scientists, do not distort the truth; tell it how it is.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd., J24 uly 17

UN 4p000 Farmed Soil as a Carbon Sink

 

When Vermuyden drained the fens, it created some of the most fertile soils in the world. Some were more than 10 m deep. This cam be mimicked using composted urban wastes.

The UN has a target of raising the organic Carbon content of soils by 4 parts per thousand in order to offset atmospheric Carbon dioxide growth and global warming.

In a short report in “The Auger” (one of the journals of the British Society of Soil Science) the work of Johnson A E, et al. in The European Journal of Soil Science concluding that, using crop production with mineral fertilisers and Nitrogen from legumes, such a target probably could not be achieved.

They have much greater knowledge than I and my limited knowledge would concur with that view.  However, fertilising crops based on composting urban wastes could easily achieve, and surpass that target. It has been done.  See https://www.amazon.co.uk/Reversing-Global-Warming-Profit-environmentally/dp/1904312810

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd

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

UK Population Growth

 

Population growth will always result in adjustment. How much and when is predictable.

According to the UK government Office of National Statistics, UK population grew by 538,000 in 2017.  That is what we know about. That does not take into account the shift in skills or ethnicity. That makes Brexit an irrelevant diversion.

The Lilliputian antics of our elected politicians and the incompetence of the Civil Service in controlling the population growth will have fundamental and possibly catastrophic effects on everything from housing to Health Service, from skills supply to Welfare Services. In my own field, the possible contribution of recycling wastes to farmed land will, inevitably, get buried in a sea of regulation.

Where is the leadership? Read chapter 1 at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Reversing-Global-Warming-Profit-environmentally/dp/1904312810 and write to your MP asking for meaningful, urgent action.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, 5 July 2017