Tag Archives: sustainable

Organic Farming Failure

 

“The crop on the right was not worth harvesting and abandoned. 4000 people dies as a result. 

I have shown a picture of this farm field before but I now have a further reasons to visit it again.  The farm appears to have abandoned harvest and it appears that the crop yield would not justify the charges by the contractor brought in to combine the crop.  The farmer claims to farm “organically”.

Now, according to the UN, over 100,000,000 people in central Africa are on the edge of starvation.  Most will actually die and it would be kinder to actually shoot them – starvation is not a very nice way to leave this earth. The farm in the picture has, at the time of writing, over 100 ha apparently abandoned. How many people would that feed?  Well, each ha of that land would yield 8, maybe 10 tonnes of wheat, let us say 8, year in, year out.  So, 800 tonnes per annum. How many would that support?  Well, it depends on the dietary level. To survive without getting fat but having enough calories to work, probably around 5 people for a full year on each tonne is a reasonable guide.

That means that if the farmer of the land in the picture had been employing current UK technology, he could be saving the lives of 4000 people, maybe more.  So by farming badly, he has murdered 4000 people?  Too harsh?  Maybe but the observation does underline two things that are as relevant today as they have ever been;

  1. We who farm the land have a responsibility to the global human population to use its productive capacity for everyone’s benefit. Good, safe food is needed and a lot of it.
  2. The question about organic v. technology and chemicals is a real one but we need production. Acceptation of reduced production by any method of farming, really does condemn others to death. So, there is a question of the balance of risks. Certainly, there are risks in using pesticides and mineral fertilisers.  The risk of starvation is very real to some. So, provided these risks are continually managed which option?  Well, British farming probably does produce the safest food in the world. Technology in responsible hands is the only solution to reducing starvation.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd,  September 17

Global Food Shortages and Water Supply

Courtesy of “The Furrow” (John Deere) this shows global farmed area shrinking and population exploding. Now ad water and forests. This is dynamite.

It is worth clicking on the link (WRI – the World Researches Institute) below for a clear view of how forests affect our water supply.  The authors point out that “The world’s major watersheds lost 6 percent of their tree cover on average from 2000-2014. Today, about 31 percent of the world’s watershed area is covered by forests.”

http://www.wri.org/blog/2017/03/3-surprising-ways-water-depends-healthy-forests?utm_campaign=wridigest&utm_source=wridigest-2017-03-21&utm_medium=email&utm_content=learnmore

The problem is a tension between the facts they point out and the needs of an expanding global population to have food, energy and occupy land. The tension between the two is an exponential curve related to population growth.  Something will give.  Unless, that is, we control population growth and very urgently.

Click here for an expansion of this discussion, and what to do about it,

Land Research   12 May 2017

Farming, Brexit and Le Pen

A major reason for Le Pen’s capture of a third of the vote was immigration. Can Macron manage immigration and population growth?

Water is the link between farming and immigration as a major issue connected with Brexit and Marine Le Pen. It is worth clicking on the link below (WRI – the World Researches Institute) for a clear view of how forests affect our water supply.  The authors point out that “The world’s major watersheds lost 6 percent of their tree cover on average from 2000-2014. Today, about 31 percent of the world’s watershed area is covered by forests.”

http://www.wri.org/blog/2017/03/3-surprising-ways-water-depends-healthy-forests?utm_campaign=wridigest&utm_source=wridigest-2017-03-21&utm_medium=email&utm_content=learnmore

The problem is a tension between the facts they point out and the needs of an expanding global population to have food, energy and occupy land. The tension between the two is an exponential curve related to population growth.  Something will give.  Unless, that is, we control population growth and very urgently.

Land Research   8 May 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

Diesels and clean burn

It will take several human generations to move from internal combustion engines to electric drive. However, we could change maybe 90% of such engines to clean-burn shale gas in, say, 20 years.

All this fuss about diesel fumes if stretching the truth a bit too far.  Firstly, smoking and obesity are far greater evils, in terms of human health and death.  Secondly, modern, Euro 6 diesels do have more particulates in their emissions than latest design petrol engines but not much more and they produce around half the Carbon dioxide per mile.   Thirdly, never mind cars, what about trucks?  Go electric?  How long would it take to change 13 million cars over to electric drive? In any case, where do you think the electricity comes from?

There is a fast, clean alternative. It creates UK jobs and dramatically reduces imports.  Shale gas is a clean burn.

Land Research Ltd  23 April 17

P.S. “Survival – Sustainable Energy, Wastes, Shale Gas and The Land” by Bill Butterworth, published by Land Research, 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. For the next couple of Sundays, it can be downloaded free at Kindle.

Ferguson and Conservation Agriculture

Ferguson was a revolution which will always be part of production on the land. However, there are opportunities to add new dimensions.

There is no doubt that Sir Harry Ferguson’s invention of the farm tractor 3-point linkage, which gave weight transfer off the cultivation tool down the top link onto the driving wheels of the tractor, revolutionised world farming and has saved many millions of the human race, including ourselves in the West, from starvation. There is no doubt that it is still relevant.

Nevertheless, we have moved on into an era where we need less damage to soil structure, less nutrient loss to ground water, less energy use, less pressure on climate change. And more food to feed a rocketing population.

Quite simply, we need to recycle urban waste to land and use zero till wherever feasible. To do this, another step in tractor development is now a marketing opportunity. Back in the1970’s, I published an article in the then journal “Big Farm Management” which predicted that the global tractor market would split into 5 roughly equal sectors; (i) mid-range, Ferguson design “maid of all work”, (i)  similar but small, up to 30 horse power, (iii) very large over 150 hp and moving to tracked, rather than wheeled, (iv) MHT’s – materials handling tractors, mainly telescopic loaders, and (v) HST’s – High Speed Transport tractors; lighter-weight, transport tractors equipped with PTO and capable of field work.

That prophesy has turned out as predicted for the first 4 categories.  Now, the need to move to conservation agriculture and zero-till, makes the move to this last category of lighter weight, transport-capable, versatile tractors,  over-due and a real opportunity for the tractor trade to supply emerging trends on conservation coupled to more efficient production.

Land Research Ltd, 14 April 2017

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