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Scary, third of arable land lost in only 40 years
3 December 2015, 18:11,
#11
RE: Scary, third of arable land lost in only 40 years
Once the soil has been washed away, or the ground has become infertile, I fail to see how rotating the grazing has any effect apart from a liberal spreading of Cow Droppings, and in any case rotational grazing should be what all good farmers practise anyway.
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4 December 2015, 09:10,
#12
RE: Scary, third of arable land lost in only 40 years
I firmly believe that there are too many humans around, added to which, generally,our lifestyle needs a rethink. It's a quality v quantity thing.
As for the lemming bit I would call that the 'tipping point'. In other words when 'you' pass this there is nowhere else to go.
Opposite where I live are some fields. The farmer sold them and a local bod was going to get planning permission to build. That all fell through. To get a return on investment the local bod decided to rent out little allotment plots. All very well - but nothing would grow there except 'weeds'. The allotment renters deserted en masse. The area is now a pony paddock - and very slowly you can see things beginning to get back to 'normal'. Grass is beginning to take hold and the natural processes of the animals are beginning to encourage a change in composition of the top layer of soil. One of the local 'experts' has indicated that samples taken over recent months are showing a reduction in the 'sand' and an increase in top soil material and other matter including the odd worm or two. It will take years to get it back to what most of us see in our own gardens. Industrial growing, farming, is all very well but I believe a rethink is needed before we reach the point of no return. Now may be a good time to engage grey matter.
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4 December 2015, 09:24,
#13
RE: Scary, third of arable land lost in only 40 years
I think the experts and ologists said that if we wanted a global population where everyone could eventually have a decent standard of living and quality of life the planets population would need to remain around the 5 to 6 billion mark almost permanently, I believe we are already at about 8 billion and adding another 1 billion every 20 years, ergo we are screwed.

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4 December 2015, 11:08,
#14
RE: Scary, third of arable land lost in only 40 years
Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute has stated" we need 1.5 Earths to sustain the current level of consumption, environmentally we are in overshoot mode". end quote.
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4 December 2015, 11:09,
#15
RE: Scary, third of arable land lost in only 40 years
Almost all farmers practice crop rotation to some degree, even if it is just cereal crops broken up by occasional Oil seed rape or sugar beet. What I was alluding to was the top 10% of farmers who are seeing the writing on the wall and are experimenting and adopting techniques that were once considered old fashioned or slightly weird John Seymour type ideas. For example, growing mustard before chopping it and incorporating it into soil to combat nematode infestations (as the Mustard decays it has aa natural fumigation effect.) Another method is growing a cover crop, Rye for example, before rolling and chopping it before drilling the next crop directly into the soil under a nice layer of Rye mulch.

The rotational grazing thing I mentioned has been used in many parts of the world to restore land that has lost up to a foot of topsoil. It works even better when mineral salt blocks are provided. It involves penning in high numbers of grazing animals on a small area for a short time before moving them on. In this process, they eat what little vegetation is growing whilst also tramping it down against the soil, adding manure as they go. They are then moved onto the next area, simulating the action of wild herds of migrating grazing animals.
Woe to those who add house to house and join field to field, Until there is no more room, So that you have to live alone in the midst of the land!
Isaiah 5:8
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4 December 2015, 11:16,
#16
RE: Scary, third of arable land lost in only 40 years
(4 December 2015, 09:10)iaaems Wrote: I firmly believe that there are too many humans around, added to which, generally,our lifestyle needs a rethink. It's a quality v quantity thing.
As for the lemming bit I would call that the 'tipping point'. In other words when 'you' pass this there is nowhere else to go.
Opposite where I live are some fields. The farmer sold them and a local bod was going to get planning permission to build. That all fell through. To get a return on investment the local bod decided to rent out little allotment plots. All very well - but nothing would grow there except 'weeds'. The allotment renters deserted en masse. The area is now a pony paddock - and very slowly you can see things beginning to get back to 'normal'. Grass is beginning to take hold and the natural processes of the animals are beginning to encourage a change in composition of the top layer of soil. One of the local 'experts' has indicated that samples taken over recent months are showing a reduction in the 'sand' and an increase in top soil material and other matter including the odd worm or two. It will take years to get it back to what most of us see in our own gardens. Industrial growing, farming, is all very well but I believe a rethink is needed before we reach the point of no return. Now may be a good time to engage grey matter.

You are 100% correct with this view Iaaems. A good friend of mine is a Farmer and so were his folks going back generations. I asked him why he couldn't farm organic and use maybe less chemicals. His answer shocked me but is none the less true. It would take him at least five years to get the health of the soil back to "normal", in that time there would be no money made. Without chemicals the weeds would be out of control, and there aren't enough farm hands to work the land, who wants to work in the fields these days?, the amount of labour you would need to run his acres he couldn't afford to pay for without an income. The most important one is that of "manure" there simply aren't enough animals to manure the arable land of England to keep it all in production, we live in the time of the car, not the Horse and Cow I'm afraid. If farmers decided to en masse turn back to earlier methods there would be government intervention because it would cause mass starvation on an unheard of scale. We have created a monster that can't be stopped now, we are damned if we do and damned if we don't.
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4 December 2015, 11:32,
#17
RE: Scary, third of arable land lost in only 40 years
crop rotation was something that used to be practised, if you grow the same crop in the same place year on year on year(as we saw when we lived in Somerset) without chemicals you are putting nothing back into the soil you are also introducing the same diseases to the ground. in the 1960s one field in four was left "fallow" and not used, the next year the crops were moved so that the same crops were not grown in the same field the next year.
stock(animals) rotation is needed so that the ground can recover, in this area(hill farming) they are moved every few days. it is also needed to enable the farmer to get a grass crop off the field in the form of hay or silage.
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4 December 2015, 11:42,
#18
RE: Scary, third of arable land lost in only 40 years
Did you se that Countryside show on the BBC last year ( maybe the year before) its called Countryfile, they did an article on Organic V Modern farming it left me stunned. Basically they went to an organic field that had not been sprayed in at least 5 years and ploughed it (1) the ground was wonderfully healthy with various assorted critters like worms, bugs, ladybirds etc and within minutes birds were following the plough eating the newly exposed critters. (2) Test of the soil showed it was thriving with bacterial colonies of good bacteria etc showing how insanely fertile the land was.

Next they ploughed and tested a modern field that was never left fallow, sprayed with pesticides, insecticide, fungicides and fertilised using chemicals made from oil (IIRC) There was almost no critters alive in the soil to aerate the soil or to be part of the food chain for birds and mammals, and the soil was borderline sterile when tested, No birds followed the plough as it tilled the land.

What can we do except hope and pray for a miracle or a pestilence to wipe out the large towns and cities,( what a dreadful thought)

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4 December 2015, 11:52,
#19
RE: Scary, third of arable land lost in only 40 years
That does not surprise me one bit, the whole point of pesticides and other such chemicals is to kill things....wouldn't be of any use if they didn't, it dosent pick and choose, it kills everything in the soil, even the good bugs and the worms and the other creepy crawlies, which all live within the top soil.
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4 December 2015, 12:10,
#20
RE: Scary, third of arable land lost in only 40 years
We did something at school called 'agricultural biology'. Crop rotation was mentioned and indeed was pushed as a very positive thing to do - and it made sense.
However the massive use of chemical fertilisers etc. was not mentioned or if it was I must have missed it.
We always seem to push the boundaries to see how far we can go. This time I feel too far.
I did read something recently (a few months or so ago) about 'hydroponics'. The potential with this seems good - I am sure there are the usual pros and cons - might be worth some more investigation at some point next year perhaps.
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