Tag Archives: environment

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

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


Farming; Adding Safety as Value



Bread from Morrisons. Yes, the UK does produce the safest food in the world. Here, the rules are more sophisticated and better policed than anywhere else.

The whole of agricultural policy following two world wars, was food security and “food” was identified as farm crops as harvested. . While we forget that lesson at our peril, we now have to think in terms of Adding Value.  Doing that by taking a harvested crop (such as vegetables) and processing and packaging them is certainly a step in the right direction.  However, there is another way of looking at Adding Value and that is at an industry level for the national economy. One of the most important ways we can do that is to accept, co-operate with and seek to influence and re-direct regulation and regulators to deliver what is, and should be recognised as already the case, the safest food in the world.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd.,  26 April 2017

Click here for Survival

Trump and The Art of The Deal

Nearly as impressive as “The Art of the Deal”.

Please would President Trump and every Member of both houses of the USA government read this.  There is money in it for the USA economy and all its people.

Land Research Ltd   14 March 2017

Nitrogen and the Environment

Shredded waste carpet, containing wool (as an organic nitrogen source). If the carpet contains synthetic fibers, too, then so much the better for soil structure and holding water (so reducing irrigation need and reducing flood risk lower down in the catchment).

Nitrogen and the environment is in the news again.  The truth is that we can have more than enough Nitrogen to grow even higher yielding crops, provided it is organically bound. That means that farming either has to find organic sources of N (not always available and likely to be expensive), or make them.  The way to make them is potentially both safe and profitable.

The one great blessing of the expanding numbers and wealth of the human race is that that expansion is mirrored by an increase in urban and industrial wastes. Most of that waste can, despite the reticence of the regulators, be safely recycled to land.  To do so not only solves the waste recycling problem, it can and will grow better crops with higher yield, with less cultivation energy, less crop disease, and dramatically less Nitrogen run-off.

How do we know that?  Because it has been done. Search; How to make on-farm composting work

Land Research Ltd  13 March 17

Waste Regulation Paralysis

“Too much analysis c an case paralysis.”

That is a quote from “The Yellow Book” by Robert Holden.  Spot on in our society where government seeks to write regulations to cover all eventualities.  Now, you do not have to be very bright to understand that is impossible and what happens is the stifling of innovation and inhibition of entrepreneurial activity which, in turn, pays taxes to fund government.  For “government”, read elected and, most certainly, civil service.

Logically, this observation applies to the waste industry, to the health service, welfare services, health and safety. The answer is simple.  A new environmental protection Act might only have one sentence; “Thou shalt not pollute”.

Better than the alternatives

Bentonite dispensing

Adding “Bentonite” to a drilling fluid. Bentonite is a natural clay which, if you ate much, would make you constipated but it is not toxic.

The ASA, the Advertising Standards Authority, ruled in Sept 16 that the Friends of the Earth (FOE) misled the public in a leaflet which claimed fracking can cause cancer. Despite this judgement, it is certainly true that there needs to be a watchdog on everything the shale gas industry does.  Fortunately we have one – it is called the Environment Agency (EA).  Now, it is clear that in this instance, and I have no doubt in many other of their campaigns, the FOE acted to promote their own interests in a way which was not based on evidence, in short, they actively fell short of honesty. It is also true that while there are some failings in the EA as a watchdog, it is one of the most precautionary regulators in the world.

There is another point to this and that is that the UK is not the USA and the British do have the best and safest technology in the world. Just to demonstrate, one of the British-designed drilling fluids is not toxic and you or I (I have offered) could drink it.  I would not advise drinking too much because the clay in it would cause constipation – but it would not poison the drinker.

For those who are concerned about shale, look at the facts and try to make an honest, evidence-based view. Will you conclude that shale gas is without fault or difficulties?  You would be foolish.  However, you might conclude that UK-produced shale gas is a lot better for the environment and ourselves than any and all of the alternatives currently available.  And we really do need more energy and we need it now.  Quite often in life, the choice is as with the politicians we vote for – maybe one might not wish to vote for shale gas but actually vote against the alternatives.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, 14 January 2017