Britain has too much rain this spring. Nevertheless, farming may pay more for its water in future.
Facing a Global Water Crisis” in a piece written by Leah Schleifer. With credit to them, I try here to relate those lessons to British farming and maybe farming elsewhere in developed counties that do not really think water may be a significant economic problem sooner rather than later.
Reason 6. Water Is Wasted
The water in our water main grid is “potable”, i.e. drinkable. Yet half the water used in domestic households is used to flush toilets, enters the sewage system and is treated and dumped into rivers. It is true that some of that water may be extracted lower down the river and re-used, but this is an incredibly wasteful system.
The washing down of dairies and other livestock enterprises on farms is similarly wasteful.
Conservation farming action;
- Harvest water off shed roofs and concrete areas,
- Wash down sensibly, limiting use to what is necessary.
- Get everyone to remember that water is a valuable and increasingly expensive resource.
Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd., 7 April 18
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.
Contour farming in the China mountains. We could use the same techniques to protect lowland areas from flash flooding.
An income-earner for upland farms could be for protecting the lowlands from flash-flooding. For flood prevention in the lowlands, an up-land flood-prevention co-op could deliver what the country needs, right now. This can be done by a reverse-franchise set up which is less restrictive than a legal co-operative.
In a reverse franchise, a limited company is set up as the franchisor and it makes the rules. Each farmer-franchisee gets one share (however big or small they are) in the franchisor and hence the name “reverse franchise”. The franchisor then forms a relationship with the Environment Agency to manage an upper catchment area including the mechanisms of (i) raising soil organic matter levels using composted urban wastes from the lowlands, (ii) planting tree belts on contours to create flow barriers, and (iii) setting up sacrifice areas to hold water under extreme conditions to allow slow release.
Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd. 12 November 2017
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
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
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.
“Survival – Sustainable Energy, Wastes, Shale Gas and The Land” is available for free download for the next 5 Sundays starting 15 Jan.
According to UN sponsored research, I tonne of N nutrient, made in a modern, efficient USA fertiliser factory, typically takes 21,000 (yes, twenty one thousand) kWh to manufacture and deliver to farm. Yet, we lose around half to groundwater with rain or irrigation. This will dramatically affect how we farm. Part of the answer is to recycle waste to farm land. How to do this safely, how shale gas will affect the land, how sustainable energy sources can help farming are all reviewed in the book. All these and how the global population will reach crisis, and when, can be downloaded for free on the Sundays 15, 22 and 29 Jan, and 5 and 12 Feb. Control and Click here Survival” by Bill Butterworth Amazon.