Tag Archives: Carbon dioxide

Farming, Global Warming and Profit

Farming is the fundamental key to removing Carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and giving back our Oxygen.

A UK-based development programme has shown that a wide range of urban and agricultural wastes can be recycled as fertilisers, to the exclusion of manufactured mineral fertilisers, to produce sustainable, high-yielding agriculture and increase bio-diversity and populations. The programme has shown how that technology can be used to develop sustainable worldwide agriculture and dramatically reduce irrigation requirements including in arid and desert soils. This, in turn, closes the loop on recycling potentially significant amounts of global Carbon dioxide by changing the hydrological cycle, and increasing the global soil Carbon sink and releasing Oxygen back to atmosphere. Click here.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, 16 May 17

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.

Sustainable energy, diesel fuel, and farming


A schematic view of Carbon fixing by green plants and the formation of coal, gas and oil, as in the Carboniferous Era, is shown in the Figure above.  What happened then was that plants took Carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to form large, organic Carbon molecules and gave back Oxygen. The most commonly quoted equation leads to a 6-Carbon sugar.

6 CO2 + 6 H2O → C6H12O6 + 6O2

Plants, of course, go on to produce much larger Carbon-based molecules and although the whole process of forming those original Carbon reserves is not the subject of this paper, the result is summarised in the figure.


Closed lopp oil

Crops with green leaves can give us energy and take Carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and give us Oxygen back.

If humans were to try to mimic that process, then it would involve growing more green crops globally and on a very large scale, including reclaiming deserts and, in doing so, avoiding a further problem.  Research sponsored by the UN] showed that in the manufacture of mineral fertilisers in typical, modern USA factories, one tonne of Nitrogen nutrient used 21,000 (twenty one thousand) kWh of electricity. Many factories around the world are significantly less efficient. In the current world, the electricity used in that manufacturing process comes mainly from burning fossilised fuel, thus forming a disproportionate amount of Carbon dioxide.  Clearly, that is not sustainable.

The classic method of solving a problem depends on putting two, mirror-image “problems” together so that they wipe each other out and, preferably, do so sustainably. The mirror image problem identified in a research and development programme carried out by Land Research was urban waste. So, wastes were used to completely replace mineral fertilisers with a result that cultivation energy went down dramatically, crop disease fell and yields went up and became more consistent. More than that, farms were able to grow oil seed rape and use the extracted oil either as biodiesel or PPO (Pure Plant Oil) in their tractors, combines and pick-up trucks, so achieving a level of energy independence and security.

More by putting “Survival by Bill Butterworth Amazon” into your search engine or click here.

The  sustainability in farming blog                                                             from Bill Butterworth 19th August 2016

The Bottom Line

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Farming is certainly about “countryside” but it is also about survival and production to feed the people of the world.

Circel rainbow and phyllosophy

Back in the late 1980’s, I was advising ICI Plant Protection, as was, about direct drilling and their translocated, green-leaf killer, Gramoxone.  We ran a competition called “The Bottom Line” and the prize was a Moore Unidrill (which, incidentally, is still a brilliantly designed drill). The challenge put to 50 farmers was to take one field and cut the number of passes compared with the rest of the farm just by one pass.  We made a comparison of the reduced pass field with a neighbouring field. The farmer chose the passes and how they cut down on energy input.  We calculated yield based on ears per sq m and calculated MOEC – Margin Over Establishment Costs (pass costs calculated from John Nix’s Pocket Book – the farm management “bible” of the time).  The average improvement of MOEC of the reduced pass fields was 11% and the winner showed a commendable 19%.  A very interesting observation from some of the farms was that when the number of passes on one field was cut, the yield on other fields went up.  Timeliness in cultivations was vital then and, it will be progressively important as global warming advances as evidenced by this last twelve months of oscillating weather.

The Wednesday sustainability blog – Bill Butterworth –

The original patent on the Moore direct drill was really clever – the depth of placement of seed remained the same regardless of the level of seed in the hopper. Getting the crop in at the right time and with even depth and moisture round the seed is key to rapid, even establishment and  yield.



Western world at night

Europe at night. the light gives an idea of the power, in terms of not only light but heating, we are consuming. Most of it comes from burning fossilised fuels which, in turn, produces Carbon dioxide – in larger quantities every day.

The Science: In the UK, 2015 marked the first year in which average temperatures for the whole year were 1 degree C above pre-industrial levels.  Latest predictions in climate change studies indicate that there is a potential for temperatures to rise by a further 4 degrees by 2060. At that level, the human race, and many other species, could not survive.  That is only 44 years from now.  Many people reading this would otherwise be still alive by then.

The bad news: We really are not doing enough to slow that rise down.

The good news: The biggest single cause is the production of greenhouse gases by burning fossilised fuels.  We could do something about that. Will we?

Bill Butterworth  27th February 2016

P,S.  Generally, I plan to post a Sunday blog on The Circular Economy and environmental, waste or food piece on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.  If you are a gardener, try looking at “How to make garden recycling work” by Bill Butterworth, published by MX Publishing and available from bookshops or Amazon.  If you are a farmer, try another in the same series, “How to make on-farm composting work”.

Possibly sustainable

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The world is crammed full of beauty. How long can we preserve that beauty and enjoy it?

I have had a number of conversations recently with fairly sensible, well-educated people who, without being miserably pessimistic, just quietly accept that the global biosphere can and will do very nicely without the human race which they accept is approaching the final lap in its own demise.  It is not difficult to find evidence that we, as a species, are pushing our luck and there is no reason to believe that we will last forever and plenty of reason to suppose the contrary.                                      Despite that, there is evidence of the ingenuity of the human race in pushing the frontiers back.  There are people working on a vaccine which will tackle all viruses within a type – influenzas for a start.  There are people working on new anti-biotics.  There are people who are trying to arrest and reverse climate change (as this post keeps suggesting; we can do a lot with more green leaves).

Too little, too late?  Probably. I remain optimist.  It does not seem much use to be anything else.  If we fail, then at least we will have been cheerful along the way. Nevertheless, to succeed, optimism has to produce action, real, sustainable action.  Better start now.


Bill Butterworth  6th January 2016

Renewable energy ignorance

Furrow 2

Ploughing farmland certainly uses energy and it speeds up oxidation of organic matter. However, direct drilling, or “zero-till”, can grow better crops when done right and reduces organic matter loss. Ground covered in green leaves removes CO2 and gives us back the O2.

There is something that really worries me about the talk about climate change and renewable energy; the lack of talk, probably a lack of understanding, about energy balance.  If renewables take more energy to manufacture, transport, commission, maintain and decommission, than the energy that comes out in the productive life, then what have we gained?  Maybe time. Maybe temporary lots of things but not sustainability.  Where is the common sense in all the discussion?

The National Geographic magazine, Nov 15 issue, was all about climate change and renewables.  As usual with this journal, the issue is pictorially stunning, well research and academically credible, and well written.  However, there was little, if any, discussion about energy balance, or pollution transfer (electric cars have to get their electricity from a power source which is likely to be a hydro-carbon generator somewhere else), or Oxygen return (when we burn fuel, including EfW, Energy from Waste, we produce Carbon dioxide and rarely do we have a discussion about the Oxygen which has been locked up and reduces what we have to breathe).

So far in the history of the world, it is only farming the green leaf which, on a global scale, can trap the energy in sunlight, reduce Carbon dioxide and give us the Oxygen back.  Why is farming not at the top of every discussion on climate change?

Bill Butterworth   27 December 2015