Direct drilling will yield as good as any other system of cultivation, sometimes more. But only if it is understood as a system. Understand the drill itself.
I have been doing a significant amount of research recently, into climate change and its effects on all of us, but farming in particular. Firstly, the rate of change really does appear to the scientists involved to be picking up speed – still slow but beginning to speed up. The next ten years will be critical. The love affair with the car is the worst offender in producing CO2, then aircraft, but there does appear to be a growing lobby seeing farming as one of the bad bogey men. The culprits are methane (from ruminants) and CO2 from diesel engines and the production of mineral fertilisers (one tonne of N nutrient made in a modern, efficient USA factory takes 21,000 kWh to manufacture and deliver).
Yet more reasons to go direct frilling. However, do not think it is an easy way out, there is just as much husbandry in direct drilling as in 4 or 5 passes of conventional cultivations. Particularly watch compaction in previous operations.
Bill Butterworth Land Research Ltd, 7 February ‘19
A more drill with cutting disc, seed coulter just behind the disk to clear trash from the slit and place the seed, independent suspension depth wheel to giive good seed-soil contact. As close as you can get to zero till without broadcasting.
The more I think about it, the more i realise that farming has a big, very big, maybe the biggest part to play in arresting global warming.
Compost urban wastes and plough them in deep.
The green leaf captures Carbon dioxide and gives back the Oxygen. No man-made process does that.
About half the dry matter content of the crop is in the root system but that will oxidise away by cultivation at around 35 % per annum – so keep it there not just by not just direct drilling but zero till.
Only farmers and foresters can do this!
Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, 6 January 2019
Conventional, plough-based cultivations certainly have a place but with a high time and energy cost.
When not to direct drill? Some years, it is wet but the harvest still has to be got in and the result is ruts. They may have to be cultivated out but it is as well to remember that direct drilled soils are less likely to rut because of the resilience of organic matter and a “blocky” structure which distorts less under load, even when wet. Also, some soils naturally form pans which may need to be cultivated out. Last reason is to bury weed seeds – but try not to plough them up next year. Rotational cultivations may be the answer with a progression to long term direct drilling.
Persist with direct drilling next year wherever possible to help build up organic matter. (Actually it is more a question of avoiding the oxidation of organic matter from conventional cultivations which could be 35% pa while direct drilling will be as little as 10% or less.)
Cuttings from HDD (through chalk can be used mas agricultural lime, saving many tonne-truck miles.
An “environmental commission-like-body” is needed to replace the role of the European Commission and the European Court of Justice in enforcing environmental law post-Brexit, says Environment Secretary Michael Gove. I have recently sent a few hundred tonnes of excavated chalk to landfill because the circumstances did not fit the current interpretation of the regulations. We really do not need any more regulators. Maybe Brexit is a real opportunity to re-structure the regulation we have got to raise productivity within a framework of environmental care. We could use CL:AIRE. Look it up. Credit to DEFRA.
Bill Butterworth, Land research Ltd, 29 November 17
Look carefully! The cardboard replica of the Houses of Parliament is backed up by an enormous pile of firewood. Moments after this picture was taken, the whole lot went up in fire and smoke.
Put on one side for a moment the shenanigans of MPs in the Palace of Westminster and elsewhere. Frankly, apart from a bad example to our kids, they are largely irrelevant. There is more reason to ask why the productivity of the UK lags so far behind other nations. The mechanics of Westminster, however, the Civil Service, is so hell-bent on not making mistakes that their not-science-based development of more and more regulations stifles innovation and entrepreneurial activity. We have lost the art of safe enabling. It is not the Palace of Westminster we need to burn, it is all the regulations and start again with an objective of enough, and only enough,regulation to innovate and produce – safely.
Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd 5 November 2017
A normal pond? Not quire – note the white colouration of the water, This is spent drilling fluid from drilling through chalk to bring cables off the North Sea wind farms.
The attached below link is to the Dutch drilling company, VSH website. The pictures (scroll down a bit) are of the drilling operation bringing cables off the North Sea wind farms to the site at Holt in North Norfolk. This brings renewable energy to the UK consumers. What Land Research does is to take the cuttings and spent fluids from such operations and re-use them, usually on agricultural land to replace the 2.5 million tonnes of top soil which the UK loses by wind and rain erosion, down into the sea, every year. Renewable energy with zero waste from such construction operations.
Dom Arnold’s JCB Fastrack and 360 excavator on its way to assist in laying cables from the North Sea wind farms under farmland in Norfolk to the National Grid to supply the economicm life of the UK.
Farming is not just food production, it is the back-bone of the economic life of the UK. It is not just the food chain which is integrated with so much of UK industry, it is the land itself.
The land is what the whole lot stands on, even the City of London and all its financial activity. It is the land across which we travel and which carries the life blood of economic activity. It is the land across which the water, electricity and gas are channelled to carry energy to the people and their businesses.