Tag Archives: fertiliser prices

UN 4p000 Farmed Soil as a Carbon Sink


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

3 Million Starving;Food, Famine and Failure

Municipal waste on its way to Frog Island on the Thames estuary There is enough waste in western society, to fertilise enough crop,s to feed western society,

The UN warning of 3 million people facing what will for most of them be unavoidable starvation and death is not new.  Malthus predicted it in 1798 and we have been doing a bit since then but not enough. If you are comfortable, why do anything at all about it?  In any case, as an individual, what you do is insignificant.

An international consequence is that empty bellies always lead to war.  In the history of the world, that has always been true.  Could we fill bellies globally?  Technically, the answer is yes, we can.  Military conflict often gets in the way.  Political will in developed countries always gets in the way.  It is almost a lifetime away that Bob Geldoff stood up in the EU Parliament and observed that the situation of global hunger and the plenty of Western counties was “obscene”.  It is now worse.

How do we fix it?  Simply use urban wastes to fertilise land and grow better crops.  It has been done in the UK and Egypt, and lots of other places. We need to scale it up and urgently. It would save a lot of imports in the UK, too, The environment would be better off, See “Survival”.

Land Research Ltd 25 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

Wastes, fertilisers and sustainability.



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.


Sustainable farming

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 and how doing this can also reduce irrigation need by up to 90 % is detailed in a referenced work on sustainable agriculture.  All these and how the global population  will reach crisis, and when, can be downloaded for free on the Sunday 12 Feb.  Search  Survival” by Bill Butterworth Amazon.

Soil Organic Matter

Moore Unidrill

The Moore Unidrill’s patents related to keeping the seed sown at the same depth regardless of how much seed is in the grain tank. This direst drill gives an unparalleled even establishment.,

Farmers can get paid to make their own organic fertilisers from urban wastes by composting.  Is it easy and without hassle? Certainly not but it does produce better crops, with lower cultivation costs and higher yields. There is a part way stage and that is to conserve as much organic matter as possible in the soil, including leaving crop residues and minimising cultivations.  In most crops, approaching half the total dry matter of the plant will be below the surface of the soil. Cultivation oxidises organic matter.  Conventional ploughing and power harrowing plus seeding can destroy up to 35 % of soil organic matter per annum.  Direct drilling as little as 10 %. .

For more detail of preserving organic matter and profits, put “Survival by Bill Butterworth Amazon” into your search engine to download details.

Land Research Ltd September 2016

How the closed loop works in organic-based systems

07.02.15 Close loop 2

The key point about organic-based soils is that the humus holds nutrients – including the Nitrogen.

The last blog in this series showed a diagram of why mineral fertilisers are so easily lost.  The diagram above here shows how that loss can be avoided. In natural ecosystems or in organic-based farming, the mycorrhiza, the soil fungi, feed on one end on the soil humus and the other end of the hyphae go across the root hair wall into the root– this is a closed conduit. So, nutrients do not leak away into the groundwater in this system.  How to stop your ammonium nitrate disappearing? Have a look here again next blog entry or get a copy of my book; “How to make on farm composting work” published by MX Publishing.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd,   31 August 2016