Tag Archives: environment

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

Pollution in context

Book cover

Each one of us has a choice, individually, as to what we eat, how we exercise, where we live. have a cho

My first job, I hesitate to admit how long ago, was to take part in initiating the development and legal insistence to fit safety cabs to farm tractors – at the time we were killing 150 people a year in tractor accidents in the UK.  As a trained and qualified agricultural scientist and a Chartered Environmentalist, I would never wish to dismiss the risks we take in in farming, nor the risks we may pass on in the food we produce.  However, in the UK, we probably really do produce the safest food in the world.  I have no doubt that there will be some who argue with that but I heard on BBC News recently some interviews on pollution and lung diseases in which a professor, an internationally recognised authority and specialist in lung diseases, was asked about life-shortening risks.  He said that if you smoke, you will shorten your life by 15 years, if you are over-weight, you will shorten it by 10 years.  He added that if you smoke and are over-weight as well, then you will shorten your life by 30 years.  When asked how much you would shorten your life if you live in a city and breathe in traffic fumes, he said 30 days.

The point I make is this. We are fortunate enough to live in a country where most of us are able to make choices about what we eat, how we exercise, how we abuse our bodies. If you are one of many who complain about things here, go try it somewhere else.

HMIP, NRA and LA’s

P1000752

In its day 30 years ago, the NRA managed flood risk substantially and successfully. Where is the NRA now?

Some of us are old enough to remember that until the grandness of the Environment Agency was created as a monument in Whitehall, there were a number of smaller bodies.

HMIP, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Pollution, was widely respected as doing a pretty good job. The NRA, National Rivers Authority, similarly and after being beefed up after the 1954 floods, did a really good job in managing water supply and preventing floods. The LA’s, Local Authorities, took care of wastes at a local level – officers patrolled their local patch and if there was a complaint they sorted it. (Anybody heard of “localism?)

Why is it that the Civil Service thinks it has the management skills to run big, centralised organisations? Mostly, centralisation doubles costs and halves effects. Why not just go back to HMIP, NRA and LA waste management?

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, 2 Nov 16