Tag Archives: Water use

Flood-prevention co-operatives

Contour farming in the China mountains. We could use the same techniques to protect lowland areas from flash flooding.

An income-earner for upland farms could be for protecting the lowlands from flash-flooding.  For flood prevention in the lowlands, an up-land flood-prevention co-op could deliver what the country needs, right now.  This can be done by a reverse-franchise set up which is less restrictive than a legal co-operative.

In a reverse franchise, a limited company is set up as the franchisor and it makes the rules.  Each farmer-franchisee gets one share (however big or small they are) in the franchisor and hence the name “reverse franchise”. The franchisor then forms a relationship with the Environment Agency to manage an upper catchment area including the mechanisms of (i) raising soil organic matter levels  using composted urban wastes from the lowlands, (ii) planting tree belts on contours to create flow barriers, and (iii) setting up sacrifice areas to hold water under extreme conditions to allow slow release.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd. 12 November 2017

Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink

Water and power; fundamentals of all production and especially farming.

On 24 August 2017 the Water Resources Institute published a piece on their website looking at “7 Reasons We’re Facing a Global Water Crisis” in a piece written by Leah Schleifer.  With credit to them, I try here to relate those lessons to British farming and maybe farming elsewhere in developed counties that do not really think water may be a significant economic problem sooner rather than later.

 Reason 4. Water infrastructure is under pressure.

It is certainly true that water companies in the UK are spending £billions to reduce leakage.  However, the Victorians where good at building reservoirs and we, now, are not.

Conservation farming action;

  1. Build traditional, on farm, reservoirs if there is a stream. (Old tyres can be used to bind clay in a dam. (See link below.).)
  2. Clean gutters and harvest water.
  3. Build top-soil reservoirs using composted waste. (See https://www.amazon.co.uk/Survival-Sustainable-Energy-Wastes-Shale/dp/1523264217 )

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd.,  September 17

 

water-supply-irrigation-direct drilling

If it is like this on top, what is it like deep down? Much of the crps in the South east and East Anglia depend on extraction from rivers and boreholes. there really is a question of how long this can be sustained.

On 24 August 2017m the Water Resources Institute published a piece on their website looking at “7 Reasons We’re Facing a Global Water Crisis” in a piece written by Leah Schleifer.  With credit to them, I try here to relate those lessons to British farming and maybe farming elsewhere in developed counties that do not really think water may be a significant economic problem sooner rather than later.

 

Reason 3. Groundwater Is Being Depleted.

About 30 percent of Earth’s fresh water lies deep underground in aquifers.

The south east of England is an area of particular concern. It is a highly populated area with relatively low annual rainfall. As a result, the supply of water in the south east of England is limited. Some parts have less usable water per person than countries such as Syria.  Generally, the water level in the aquifers in the chalk areas of the UK are experiencing falling.   The falling level of water near our bore-holes is not going to be helped by more rainfall because high intensity rain tends to run off into the rivers and to sea.

Conservation farming action;

  1. Increase soil organic matter and reduce cultivations.
  2. Trees are a mixed water-blessing; they will reduce water run-off and reduce flash-flooding lower down, and they will respire around 50 % more than a cereal crop.
  3. Look for crops that need less water or are deep-rooted (such as forage maize instead of grass).

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd.,  September 17

 

More People means more water

There is a real question about global and UK population. It is not about race, it is about numbers.

 

On 24 August 2017m the Water Resources Institute published a piece on their website looking at “7 Reasons We’re Facing a Global Water Crisis” in a piece written by Leah Schleifer.  With credit to them, I try here to relate those lessons to British farming and maybe farming elsewhere in developed counties that do not really think water may be a significant economic problem sooner rather than later.

 

Reason 2. More People + More Money = More Water Demand.

The Yorkshire Post reports that: “There has been a net loss nationally of 7,000 hectares of agricultural land in the UK between 2006 and 2012”. The Guardian has reported that: “Earth has lost a third of arable land in past 40 years”. There is an insidious water consumption in the UK.  While our own water consumption is rising with population growth (net plus 0.5 million people in 2016!) and what we each spend is continually, our consumption of “virtual water” (i.e. that which is involved with production overseas of what we import) is 30 times as much as UK water used, and the WWF reports that; “Taking virtual water into account, each of us soaks up 4,645 litres a day”.  That makes us the 6th largest water importer in the world.

Yes, there is a looming crisis.

Conservation farming action;

  1. Build water storage if you can. (There is some useful USA experience in building dams using old tyres.)
  2. Harvest water from roofs and concrete.
  3. Subsoil to allow roots to go deeper and move to reduced tillage – develop understanding and skills in direct drilling (or what is otherwise called “zero till”).

 

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd.,  September 17

 

Survival, Water & Farming

Farming, food production and water are not only global issues, they are already significant in the UK’s green and pleasant land.

I took this picture earlier this evening, on the top of chalk downs near Devizes in Wiltshire. What happened to April showers? The spring-sown crops are struggling.  Whatever Donald Trump says, the climate is changing and there are visible consequences.

Read about these issues. Put “Survival Bill Butterworth Amazon” into your search engine or try Kindle instead of Amazon.  The book is free to download for the next 4 Sundays – 16, 23, 30 April and & May.and not much to buy anytime.  The paperback version is OK to read but if you download, it is better on a big screen because of some of the tables and diagrams.

Land Research Ltd, 13 April 2017

Survival

 

Global warming is destroying food production in central Africa. We had better be careful.

The news reports of starvation in central Africa are pitiful. But this is a picture of the human race not paying attention to its future. The devastation will not stop in central Africa unless we are much more active in heading off the crisis and it is not just a question of sending a bit of cash and feeding a few people.  Logically (this will sound awful and it is), we should abandon the area (we will do that of course). We need to put our own house in order. Produce food at home right here in the UK whenever possible.  Do it with much less energy. Stop building on farm land. Wind up production using wastes rather than fertilisers made using energy.

Remember one figure and think about it.  1 tonne of Nitrogen fertiliser (say 3 tonnes of ammonium nitrate) made in a modern, relatively efficient, USA factory, according to UN sponsored research, takes 21,000 KW hours of electricity to make it and deliver it.

We urgently need to change the way we do things and value farming and our future.

 

Bill Butterworth,   Land Research Ltd,   March 2017

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