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What on Earth are we leaving our grandchildren?

(43 Posts)
MawBroon Wed 25-Oct-17 07:12:31

I have little time for Michael Gove, for a variety of reasons, but my blood runs cold at this prospect of what we are bequeathing our children and grandchildren, according to an article in this morning’s paper.

Jalima1108 Wed 25-Oct-17 09:56:35

Michael Gove strikes me as a man who needs to have a mission - many may not agree with his previous campaigns - but this time perhaps his zeal will be of vital importance to the future of agriculture in this country.
Let us all hope, for all our sakes, that this time his efforts will be successful.

merlotgran Wed 25-Oct-17 10:06:29

Thanks for the link, Maw. I too have little time for MG but agree with every word. Intensive farming horrified me when we moved to Cambridgeshire in the mid seventies. DH was an arable manager and we were moving from mixed farming (much more my thing) to intensive arable.

When we bought our own property after living in a tied farmhouse we added two acres of prime, supposedly fertile, fen soil to the small back garden. I couldn't wait to get stuck in but was told by an old style farm worker, 'You won't get nothing to grow in there except nettles!'

He was right.....To my horror I couldn't find a single worm. It took three years of study, hard work building an efficient composting system and patience before I could honestly say I'd put right the damage caused by intensive farming.

The farmland around us had a brief respite when organic produce became trendy (even for some large food producers) about twenty years ago but it's back to intensive methods again now. sad

DH was responsible for a huge programme of tree and hedge replanting during the eighties and it breaks his heart to see rows and rows being ripped out again.

Tim Smit's comment at the end of the article is spot on.

lemongrove Wed 25-Oct-17 11:31:56

Frightening isn’t it?

MaizieD Wed 25-Oct-17 11:41:23

Well, I think we have more of this soil impoverishment going on once we leave the EU as farmers use whatever methods they can to extract every ounce of crops from the soil as food imports become more expensive.

EU attempts to improve the agricultural environment have proved to be so very unpopular...

Day6 Wed 25-Oct-17 11:48:52

Well, I think we have more of this soil impoverishment going on once we leave the EU as farmers use whatever methods they can to extract every ounce of crops from the soil as food imports become more expensive.

But given most of us are aware of the eco-system, have green credentials and appreciate the planet's fragility I suspect we will wage war on greedy farmers. Once out of the EU's clutches I am sure the campaign for soil enrichment will gather strength.

So many more of us compost and recycle these days. Enlightenment has dawned.

Hopefully the issue will get lots of publicity.

Let's buy wormeries for our GC at Christmas. grin Early education regarding the way the planet works is vital for future generations I believe.

merlotgran Wed 25-Oct-17 12:40:33

Just a word in defence of 'greedy farmers'....They are so hog-tied by the greedy supermarkets that are their main source of income that they live in fear of contracts being cancelled.

They are being pushed and pushed to produce more.

Jalima1108 Wed 25-Oct-17 13:08:03

Well said merlotgran.

Good farmers do their best to produce what the supermarkets believe the consumer wants - perfect food without a single blemish - because otherwise they would lose their livelihood. Good farmers are also aware of what the land needs in return.

If the EU Agricultural Policy was so perfect why is the soil in such a perilous state now? Now we are leaving, perhaps we can act unilaterally to reverse the damage done.

Jalima1108 Wed 25-Oct-17 13:10:06

We need to support our farmers, not demonise them or drive them to suicide Day6.

Very few are greedy - only the big landowners who have benefited most from the EU policies.

durhamjen Wed 25-Oct-17 14:02:44

Gove's record on environmental issues.

Voted for selling off the forests.
Voted against measures to prevent climate change.
Voted for high speed rail, which will destroy much of the ancient forest.

durhamjen Wed 25-Oct-17 14:05:11

Why does there need to be a Sustainable Soil Association?
Why can they not just join the Soil Association?
Organic farming is the best way to keep a good soil structure.

lemongrove Wed 25-Oct-17 14:06:39

Being in the EU hasn’t done anything for the state of our soil here, so can hardly be worse once we are clear of the EU, and as Jalima says, we can do more on this issue hopefully from now on.

lemongrove Wed 25-Oct-17 14:07:39

Organic farming can never be done on a large scale for the UK.

durhamjen Wed 25-Oct-17 15:02:53

Why not?
If farmers do not, the structure of the soil will end up like a dustbowl, which is the whole point of it, isn't it, to stop that?

lemongrove Wed 25-Oct-17 15:09:04

What farmers can do, is add goodness to the soil and be careful of what they do use, but in large scale food production they could lose too much of the crop if not sprayed, and that would result in less produce for sale and expensive prices.We can’t expect them to be entirely organic, but there is no doubt more that they could do, and they need to be encouraged, either by subsidies and/or laws in place,mso that they will do it.

merlotgran Wed 25-Oct-17 15:18:15

Why not, durhamjen?

Ask the supermarkets.

lemongrove Wed 25-Oct-17 15:21:33

We have all been conditioned to expect perfect looking apples etc which is to blame really, so yes, supermarkets need to up their game and take less than perfect fruit and veg from farmers.Taste is more important than a few blemishes.

MawBroon Wed 25-Oct-17 15:34:08

I think,we as the consumers must share some of the blame with our obsession for LOW prices and “aesthetic”produce. The supermarkets will squeeze the farmers until the pips squeak and can cancel a whole contract for less than perfect produce or failure to meet the required quantities at the lowest possible price so the producers are forced to overproduce and undercut and (as they see it ) their savings have to be made somewhere. When you think of the vast quantities of food WASTE it is clear we have got something very wrong.

durhamjen Wed 25-Oct-17 15:39:30

Supermarkets didn't do this.

durhamjen Wed 25-Oct-17 15:42:57

The EU has continued its ban on neonics. The UK wants to allow farmers to continue using them.

whitewave Wed 25-Oct-17 15:45:29

I try to buy as much as I can from organic farmers. Thus hopefully caring for the land and by-passing the overpowerful supermarkets.

durhamjen Wed 25-Oct-17 19:08:48

MaizieD Wed 25-Oct-17 19:22:51

Please note that I never said a word about farmers being greedy, only that they will have to maximise production.

Tell me if I'm wrong, Merlotgran but I don't think that huge cereal farms or vegetable farms have much in the way of organic matter to put back into their soil. It's not as if they are running herds of cattle so that they can return their muck to the fields. I also understood that the EU are rather keen on promoting soil health and environmentally friendly farming practices.

merlotgran Wed 25-Oct-17 19:47:25

I mentioned as much in my post of 10:06, MaizieD

I was replying to Day6 about the greedy farmers comment.

There are changes being made to intensive farming practices now such as minimal ploughing and use of cover crops etc.

When mixed farming became uneconomic we lost the opportunity to enrich the soil with manure.

Jalima1108 Wed 25-Oct-17 20:11:34

Please note that I never said a word about farmers being greedy, only that they will have to maximise production.
It wasn't you who used that term MaizieD

DEFRA already has a farm waste management plan which are guidelines but I am not sure if it is compulsory.