Tag Archives: waste

Sustainable energy, diesel fuel, and farming


A schematic view of Carbon fixing by green plants and the formation of coal, gas and oil, as in the Carboniferous Era, is shown in the Figure above.  What happened then was that plants took Carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to form large, organic Carbon molecules and gave back Oxygen. The most commonly quoted equation leads to a 6-Carbon sugar.

6 CO2 + 6 H2O → C6H12O6 + 6O2

Plants, of course, go on to produce much larger Carbon-based molecules and although the whole process of forming those original Carbon reserves is not the subject of this paper, the result is summarised in the figure.


Closed lopp oil

Crops with green leaves can give us energy and take Carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and give us Oxygen back.

If humans were to try to mimic that process, then it would involve growing more green crops globally and on a very large scale, including reclaiming deserts and, in doing so, avoiding a further problem.  Research sponsored by the UN] showed that in the manufacture of mineral fertilisers in typical, modern USA factories, one tonne of Nitrogen nutrient used 21,000 (twenty one thousand) kWh of electricity. Many factories around the world are significantly less efficient. In the current world, the electricity used in that manufacturing process comes mainly from burning fossilised fuel, thus forming a disproportionate amount of Carbon dioxide.  Clearly, that is not sustainable.

The classic method of solving a problem depends on putting two, mirror-image “problems” together so that they wipe each other out and, preferably, do so sustainably. The mirror image problem identified in a research and development programme carried out by Land Research was urban waste. So, wastes were used to completely replace mineral fertilisers with a result that cultivation energy went down dramatically, crop disease fell and yields went up and became more consistent. More than that, farms were able to grow oil seed rape and use the extracted oil either as biodiesel or PPO (Pure Plant Oil) in their tractors, combines and pick-up trucks, so achieving a level of energy independence and security.

More by putting “Survival by Bill Butterworth Amazon” into your search engine or click here.

The  sustainability in farming blog                                                             from Bill Butterworth 19th August 2016

The circular economy: 4. Tipping point ignorance




World population and food

I have used this before on this blog and repeat it because it is a very significant concept. Courtesy of “The Furrow”, journal of John Deere.

We are loosing bio-diversity.  Estimates vary on how many species become extinct every day but is hundreds, even many thousands every year. Does it rally matter?  Similarly, we are damaging the environment we live in very significantly.  How many bricks can we pull; out of the bridge before it collapses?  Could we reverse these changes and are we likely to even try?

The science: The inescapable logic is that, at some point, the changes become irreversible.  That is an over-simplification; if we allow a species to become extinct, that is in reality, irreversible. However, the truth is that it is much more complicated than that.  There will not be a single point, as if a gun was fired.  What will happen is more like a gradual starvation to death. We really do not know how rapid that will be and it will vary according to circumstances. Without any doubt, our environmental destruction is already in progress. It will progress like an exponential population growth curve upwards – except this one is downwards.

The bad news: We really do not know if we are already on the really slippery and steep part of the decline, if that is tomorrow morning or next year.  However, on the information we have now, it is very unlikely to be 10 years.  So it is no good leaving it to our kids.

The good news: it does appear that we are still on a gentle slope and that we still have time to avoid the really catastrophic decline in our environment. BUT, not much time.

Bill Butterworth 6th March 16

PS, I have used this Figure in the introduction of my latest book due out in April, “Survival! – Sustainable energy, waste, shale gas and the land.”

Paris failure – dream on


Climate security depends on Green; everyone must grow something or eat green plants someone else has grown.

The deal in Paris is certainly remarkable and potentially politically very significant.  If the majority manage to stick to the targets, it will be a miracle. There is no doubt that cutting Carbon dioxide emissions is very much part of the global target which must be achieved if global warming is going to be kept under 2 degrees C. – let alone the 1.5 degrees which most climatologists think is even too high.  However, it is only part of what is necessary.  The other part is to remove Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere but in a way that gives us the Oxygen back.  The only process we have at present to do that is an old activity called growing things.  Photosynthesis takes the Carbon dioxide and processes it to give us the Oxygen back. That means gardening (even if it is only a pot plant or a window box) and farming.  However, we need to dream a bit higher to achieve climate security and that dream is to reclaim the deserts and all the un-productive land.  The only way to do that is to recycle urban wastes to land.

However, before farming pats itself on the back, it is also a villain. (See the next blog here.)

Bill Butterworth   13 Dec 2015

Reversing global warming

  • Is global warming happening and is it man-made or natural cycle?
  • Farmers can deliver biofuels and take Carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere – safely.
  • It is possible to use UK waste to fertilise land and eliminate the importation of mineral fertilisers.

By Bill Butterworth

7 December 2014

The discussion about whether global warming is happening and if it is whether it is man-made or part of a natural cycle is fruitless and typical of an uneducated mind. The problem with ignorance is that it does not know what it does not know.

There are natural cycles which we do not control on global temperature change. We are burning hydrocarbon fuels and producing Carbon dioxide. There is certainly change. We can do at least a little about it to limit the damage and gain time to adjust.

A 330 hectare farm in the Land Network farmers’ group has delivered taking a range of municipal and industrial “wastes” to make compost, so eliminating the use of mineral fertilisers, to grow good crops safely and these include oil seed rape which is used, on the same farm, to produce biodiesel to EN14214. They calculate that taking 1 hectare of oil seed rape grown this way will produce enough energy to run 10 hectares, including all the field work and all the houses of the families who work that land. Also, by pushing up organic matters on their heavy clays, they have cut cultivation energy cost by around 60%. Every hectare of land planted by this farm to oil seed rape (to produce biodiesel), removes 69 tonnes of Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and pumps 73 tonnes of Oxygen back in. *

Another farm in the Land Network group (Land Network Melton) does, again, use “wastes” to make compost to fertilise their land and eliminate groundwater pollution. The river Eye runs through their 330 hectare (800 acre) farm and the two farming brothers are involved with the river authority including conservation of water voles, freshwater crayfish and otters, plus the RSPB with avian biodiversity (76 bird species) and 18 butterfly species on the whole of their farm. They grow several crops and the wheat they produce would make one million loaves of bread.*

*See “Reversing Global Warming for Profit” by Bill Butterworth, published by MX Publishing, London and available from Amazon and good book sellers everywhere.

There is probably around 150 million tonnes of wastes in the UK which could be recycled to land and reduce, possibly eliminate, farmers importing £2.4 billions worth every year of mineral fertilisers, and eliminate the associated pollution of groundwater.

It would be to the great credit to DEFRA and the Environment Agency if they could facilitate this.