Tag Archives: land

Farm land and contraception


We are loosing thousands of ha of farm land. every year. Setting up wetlands is very nice but “we have a problem, Huston”.


If I have remembered it rightly, the BBC in their Western News program on BBC1, 27 June 17, reported that the Environment Agency had, with assistance, spent £20 million deliberately flooded this area of Steart Marshes which had previously been farm land. The Wildlife and Wetlands Trust claim, “Hundreds of hectares of saltmarsh and freshwater wetlands buffer homes and businesses from rising sea levels ….”

Put on one side for a moment that a few generations of farmers had spent their lives winning the area from the sea and produced food. Also put aside the fact that most of the global population does not have enough to eat. Now look at the following report.


A satellite survey by a research team at the University of Leicester (UofL) found that between 2006 and 2012, 22,000 hectares (54,ooo acres) of green space was converted to “artificial surfaces” – mostly housing. More than 7,000 hectares of forest was felled, 14,000 hectares of farmland concreted ……..to make way for urban sprawl. That’s a landscape twice the size of Liverpool, transformed forever, in just six years.


Now add in that because of recent news, many people might think twice about living in a tower block.


There is a real crisis here about land, wild life and people.  We really do have to choose before nature does it for us.  The choice is simple.  Build sea walls. Stop people breeding. Think about it.


Bill Butterworth

Land Research Ltd

27 June 2017

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

“Anoikis” – homelessness and the land



Land, the most fundamental of requirements for peace of mind.

“Anoikis” is Greek for homelessness and I rather like this quote about it and it comes down to land ownership.

“Within the boundaries of our bodies, complex multi-cellular structures are sustained by the production of molecules that ensure cooperation and the exchange of information among cells—a process known as “signalling”. Impairments in this process can lead to the onset of disorders such as cancer. If detached from other cells or the surrounding matrix, cells usually die within a short time, a process called “anoikis”, Greek for homelessness.

Whoever ends “anoikis” in North Africa and West Asia will win the war on terror. That is why the West and its allies must help the 80% of the population whose survival depends on the boundaries needed to protect them and their assets (property rights and limited liability). They need the signalling mechanisms to detect danger (records and tracking systems that come from recording assets and firms). They need the adhesion molecules to connect with others and build increasingly complex and valuable combinations (legally enforceable contracts). And they need the ability to use assets to guarantee credit and create capital (shares and stock to divide, extend, and collateralize property). Otherwise, the combined military forces of Europe and the US—and now Russia—will win nothing.

If French President Hollande, the next US president, and their Arab allies are to stop terrorism, they must press (and help) West Asian governments to provide their people with the protections that will nurture their potential to prosper on equal terms in the global market. That is what the American and French revolutionaries did. And it is the surest way to deny extremists the attractiveness that sustains their existence.”

Hernando De Soto is president of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy.


I am grateful to Tim Chamen, otherwise known as a global authority on zero traffic cultivation systems, for bring this quotation to our attention. It seems to me that this brings us right back to a fundamental of our national and personal security, how to farm and produce food, and indeed, life itself: the land.

Bill Butterworth   February 2016

P,S.  Generally, I plan to post a Sunday blog on The Circular Economy  and environmental, waste or food piece on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.


Mineral fertilisers – Not a closed loop


This diagram shows haw farmers lose around half the Nitrogen fertiliser they buy.

The diagram above shows why mineral fertilisers are a staggering waste of resources.  Mineral fertilisers work very well and very fast because they are soluble.  However, that solubility brings a problem and Nitrogen fertilisers such as ammonium nitrate are really wasteful because, in the UK, around half is washed out into the groundwater. This is really a hydroponic system and it does work very well and has helped feed millions. Now, we can do better and it solves the problem discussed in the Sunday blog here – No 1 on The Circular Economy.  On Wednesday next, I will publish a follow up to this piece on how the closed loop works in an organic-based system and how to cut the Nitrogen bill in half.

Bill Butterworth  17 February 2016

P.S.  I plan that every mid-week Tuesday or Wednesday depending on appointments away from base, I will run a blog piece on sustainable agriculture, farming, wastes and environment. My Sunday post will for the next few weeks generally be on The Circular Economy. My next mid-week blog will be on how the closed loop in natural ecosystems works and how it eliminates loss of nutrients.


When is a greenfield not a greenfield?




A boarded up property waiting for redevelopment. however, that might not happen. It looks like a brown field site under old rules but, now, it might be greenfield?

An “English country garden” is a brownfield site, says the High Court in a recent ruling, but an urban one is greenfield.  This discussion has been going on ever since the then government Minister, Eric Pickes, tried a couple of years ago, to free up land for building.  The High Court in its great wisdom has now ruled that residential gardens are “Brownfield” sites (so planning permission for further development is less easily denied) but gardens in urban areas (which are “in more need of defending”) are “greenfield” (i.e. planning permission for development would be less easily given).  I hope that is clear.

As this blog is about sustainability, it is evidenced here that the insanity of English Law is, apparently, forever sustainable (which is a word which this blog is interested in).

Organic fertilisers and crop yields

07.02.15 Close loop 2

A diagram taken from “How to make on-farm composting work” published by MX Publishing, London.

There are two ways a plant gets its nutrients; in solution or fed in through a closed conduit composed of the hyphae of soil fungi.

Mineral fertiliser systems are really hydroponic systems which allow nutrients to enter the plant in solution.  As a way of doing things, it does work and it has served us very well.High humus soils, those with a high proportion of organic matter, work by the soil mycorrhiza feeding at one end on the organic matter in the soil and the other end either crossed the root hair wall into the plant – this is the closed conduit.  This system does not leak nutrients, has less crop disease, lower cultivation energy cost AND yields more.   How do we know that?  Because it has been done.  See “How to make on-farm composting work” published by MX Publishing.Remember this figure; one tonne of Nitrogen nutrient in a mineral fertiliser made in a modern, efficient, USA factory will typically take 21,000 kilowatt hours to make and deliver. That energy input is NOT sustainable.  Using “waste” to feed crops is.

Bill Butterworth  18 November 2015


Population, food, global warming and “red cards”


A “temperature inversion” on low-lying land near a canal in Wiltshire, England, UK. Do we want our kids to live to see these things?

The jigsaw of energy, food and land

  • As population grows, so food demand increases.
  • As population grows, so available farm land decreases
  • As population grows, so energy demand increases.
  • There are solutions to this apparent conflict.

Bill Butterworth 6th October 15

“May you live in interesting times.” Chinese proverb

Are we really on a collision course to disaster in the use of land to produce food, energy and places for people to live?  The straight answer is undoubtedly “yes” but there are things that we could do to avert a catastrophic collapse.  It is about building a balanced, long term, jigsaw puzzle.  If we do not have a global plan. then the unavoidable arithmetic is that nature will, unilaterally, hand out red cards.

As this blog has observed, there is an apparent conflict between population growth and the demand on land. (See 22 February below.) That same post of 22 Feb also pointed out that mineral fertilisers consume enormous energy in their manufacture. Similarly, some of these posts have looked at the alternatives for “renewable” energy such as solar panels, wind turbines.  So, how can we put together a balanced use of energy which will deliver what we need?

Well, we certainly need to develop solar power and make it more efficient.  That may involve more efficient collection of solar energy in areas where there is a sunshine, such as the middle of the Sahara, and develop a “super-grid”, probably based on DC transmission to areas of population where they have less sun.  So power production is inevitably part of the jigsaw. Similarly with wind turbines, hydro, geothermal and so on. Batteries will revolutionise power distribution but they are, and will remain, very expensive.  People use energy.

On the subject of desert, the Sahara was covered in trees as little as 5000 years ago.  We could reclaim at least some of the deserts using industrial wastes and we may need to kick-start that using mineral fertilisers.  There is an argument to use shale gas to make urea fertilisers to start food production in reclaiming such land, use the cropping and imported wastes to raise organic matter in the soils, develop no-till farming to conserve the organic matter, use less water this way and use the cropping to take Carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and grow the soil Carbon sink. People need food.

There is an important set of figures in soil water management and irrigating deserts. Sand holds about its own weight of water.  Clay two times.  Composts up to 10 times. So, put a layer of compost into the cool layer below the surface and it is possible to cut irrigation need by a factor of 10 and possibly more.

So, all of this is not about a single panacea, nor “horses for courses”.  It is about a balanced composite plan which uses what we have got in a long term plan.

Just one basic thought. Running through all of this is the word “people”.  Each individual has a right to a reasonable life.  To deliver that we really do have to find a way to reduce global population. Slowing down population growth is not good enough. What happens if we do not do this?  Read this blog, 4 March 15 or, for more detail, Chapter 1 of “Reversing global warming for profit”, published by MX Publishing.