Entangled Life

martian

DD Moderator
BASE UK Member
Location
N Herts
Just been having a great Christmas read of this book Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake. I can't recommend it highly enough to anybody who is remotely interested in the soil (which should be everyone on here). It is all about fungi and how little we know about them, as mainstream science tends to stick their study in with plants. Every page has some astonishing fact or idea which collectively change the way you'll look at the world. They are extraordinary creatures and have enormous potential to improve our future, as well as our present. First thing we have to do is stop using fungicides...
 

Bury the Trash

Member
Mixed Farmer
On the few peas / barley combicrops ive noticed no lightweight grain problem, when no fungicide was used ( not that we use a lot any way. )
was it a fair enough trial ? was it using less seed barley (but the canopy looked physically thick even if it was consisting of peas as well) ?
Im no expert and can someone explain why combicrops seem to help in this way , if they do :unsure:
 
Just been having a great Christmas read of this book Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake. I can't recommend it highly enough to anybody who is remotely interested in the soil (which should be everyone on here). It is all about fungi and how little we know about them, as mainstream science tends to stick their study in with plants. Every page has some astonishing fact or idea which collectively change the way you'll look at the world. They are extraordinary creatures and have enormous potential to improve our future, as well as our present. First thing we have to do is stop using fungicides...

Its on my list to read.
 

martian

DD Moderator
BASE UK Member
Location
N Herts
On the few peas / barley combicrops ive noticed no lightweight grain problem, when no fungicide was used ( not that we use a lot any way. )
was it a fair enough trial ? was it using less seed barley (but the canopy looked physically thick even if it was consisting of peas as well) ?
Im no expert and can someone explain why combicrops seem to help in this way , if they do :unsure:
Well, it turns out most plants depend on fungi to a large extent...for millions of years plants didn't have roots as such, they relied on fungi to do the job of supplying nutrients and water to the plant in exchange for sugars and lipids etc that they need to grow. This symbiotic relationship continues, even though plants now have their own roots, most of the time they still rely on fungi to do the heavy lifting. A lot of these underground helpers will be connected to each other as well as other plants (the 'wood wide web', albeit in an arable field), this diversity is much healthier for each plant as well as the fungi (there being no mono-cultures in nature) so your barley will be happier and healthier in a combi-crop.
 

Grass And Grain

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Yorks
Just been having a great Christmas read of this book Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake. I can't recommend it highly enough to anybody who is remotely interested in the soil (which should be everyone on here). It is all about fungi and how little we know about them, as mainstream science tends to stick their study in with plants. Every page has some astonishing fact or idea which collectively change the way you'll look at the world. They are extraordinary creatures and have enormous potential to improve our future, as well as our present. First thing we have to do is stop using fungicides...
Went to a talk by Dr somebodyorother, who was the mycorrhizal fungi expert at (I think) Rothamstead. He said they'd not seen any ill effects on mycorrhizal fungi populations or health from using agricultural fungicides.

He seemed to know what he was talking about. Think all his studdies and expertise was about mycorrhizal fungi, so he was the man in the know. Can't remember his name.

Is there any data which suggests otherwise?
 

martian

DD Moderator
BASE UK Member
Location
N Herts
Went to a talk by Dr somebodyorother, who was the mycorrhizal fungi expert at (I think) Rothamstead. He said they'd not seen any ill effects on mycorrhizal fungi populations or health from using agricultural fungicides.

He seemed to know what he was talking about. Think all his studdies and expertise was about mycorrhizal fungi, so he was the man in the know. Can't remember his name.

Is there any data which suggests otherwise?
Think I may have heard the same talk...Whatever, I'd managed to convince myself that fungicides only killed the bad guys and we needn't worry about collateral damage. But t isn't just mycorrhizae, there are fungi recycling the straw on the ground, other fungi all over the place, all performing some ecosystem function. The whole system is wonderfully complex, so, no, there is not much data that suggests anything much. Scientists love having one particular thing to study...we had a lovely one digging holes in one of our fields looking for the interaction between one particular mycorrhizal fungus and our crops over a few years, she admitted that she was barely scratching the surface: mycology is a young discipline and an awful lot isn't known about the myriad associations fungi make with each other and with plants and animals.

We were told that we'd get all sorts of problems when we stopped using insecticides, in fact it was one of the best things we've done on this farm, the explosion of wildlife has been so pleasing: we had a birder do a survey last week, on one prairie like field which we didn't get drilled (so stubble rather than cover crops) he counted 250 skylarks, 200 corn buntings and 150 yellowhammers amongst other things. All very nice, but crucially we are not losing crops to BYDV or aphid attack or whatever, there are apparently 1700 'good' insects to every 'bad' one, I suspect the same ratio applies to fungi...so why do we want to upset the mushroom cart? There's no doubt a dose of rust can take out a field of wheat, but a healthy wheat plant (swarming as it will be with beneficial fungi) should be able to deal with pathogens, just as healthy animals don't get sick. @parker is the fellow who knows about this stuff, but it seems sensible to me that we should concentrate on growing healthy crops to produce good food, rather than force-feeding our crops N or whatever and then spending the early summer treating them for the inevitable diseases that will follow.
 

Grass And Grain

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Yorks
Think I may have heard the same talk...Whatever, I'd managed to convince myself that fungicides only killed the bad guys and we needn't worry about collateral damage. But t isn't just mycorrhizae, there are fungi recycling the straw on the ground, other fungi all over the place, all performing some ecosystem function. The whole system is wonderfully complex, so, no, there is not much data that suggests anything much. Scientists love having one particular thing to study...we had a lovely one digging holes in one of our fields looking for the interaction between one particular mycorrhizal fungus and our crops over a few years, she admitted that she was barely scratching the surface: mycology is a young discipline and an awful lot isn't known about the myriad associations fungi make with each other and with plants and animals.

We were told that we'd get all sorts of problems when we stopped using insecticides, in fact it was one of the best things we've done on this farm, the explosion of wildlife has been so pleasing: we had a birder do a survey last week, on one prairie like field which we didn't get drilled (so stubble rather than cover crops) he counted 250 skylarks, 200 corn buntings and 150 yellowhammers amongst other things. All very nice, but crucially we are not losing crops to BYDV or aphid attack or whatever, there are apparently 1700 'good' insects to every 'bad' one, I suspect the same ratio applies to fungi...so why do we want to upset the mushroom cart? There's no doubt a dose of rust can take out a field of wheat, but a healthy wheat plant (swarming as it will be with beneficial fungi) should be able to deal with pathogens, just as healthy animals don't get sick. @parker is the fellow who knows about this stuff, but it seems sensible to me that we should concentrate on growing healthy crops to produce good food, rather than force-feeding our crops N or whatever and then spending the early summer treating them for the inevitable diseases that will follow.
Managing BYDV without using insecticides must be considered a real win for conservation ag farms.
 

Flat 10

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Fen Edge
Well, it turns out most plants depend on fungi to a large extent...for millions of years plants didn't have roots as such, they relied on fungi to do the job of supplying nutrients and water to the plant in exchange for sugars and lipids etc that they need to grow. This symbiotic relationship continues, even though plants now have their own roots, most of the time they still rely on fungi to do the heavy lifting. A lot of these underground helpers will be connected to each other as well as other plants (the 'wood wide web', albeit in an arable field), this diversity is much healthier for each plant as well as the fungi (there being no mono-cultures in nature) so your barley will be happier and healthier in a combi-crop.
But OSR and sugar beet don’t among the crop plants and one other big group I can’t remember
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer

I meant to put this up for @Grass And Grain but fell asleep instead.
Quite an interesting look at AMF, off the topic of the book sorry but the info is out there.
Various fungicides (way out of my line) seem to have different effects on AMF.

Our own cells are full of fungi of various types as well, so a likely trickle-down effect on the human microbiome as exposure increases? 🤷‍♂️

It's all very much "entangled"; when you consider something as "good" as keeping our teeth longer in life (due to better dentistry) is a likely cause of increased alzheimers' cases - the bacteria responsible for gum disease can now jump the blood-brain barrier due to the decrease in the fungal mass and diversity in our body's cells.

It's a big cart of mushrooms to tip over
 

Bury the Trash

Member
Mixed Farmer
It's all very much "entangled"; when you consider something as "good" as keeping our teeth longer in life (due to better dentistry) is a likely cause of increased alzheimers' cases - the bacteria responsible for gum disease can now jump the blood-brain barrier due to the decrease in the fungal mass and diversity in our body's cells.
but that doesn't explain a sister and brother who lost there teeth at a young age who have secombed to dementia , as did their father.

its a big subject, and more so as people live longer lives these days.
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
Anybody know of any books on regen ag written by anyone farming in a (northern) british climate? The majority I've come across seem to farm in a desert with a cold winter. Very different to here.
Try searching permaculture titles, the principles carry over well to restorative agriculture.

One unsettling fact is that every civilisation that has depended on annual crops for its calories has collapsed. Every single one.

What we're discussing here could well be a part why this is so ?

From an outsider's perspective, Britain really turned that corner with the "Dig for Victory" / "Plough for wheat" campaigns and the inertia remains to this day, there just seems to be general disbelief that perennial species could ever provide enough nutrition to sustain such a population.

"Grass-Fed Nation" is a good read, possibly the UK equivalent of "Call of the Reed Warbler" in that it's an uneasy read for a farmer - but really provoking if you aren't a big Jessy about it 😀
 

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Man fined £300 for bonfire-related waste offences

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Written by William Kellett from Agriland

court-640x360.jpg
A man has pleaded guilty at Newtownards Magistrates’ Court to waste offences relating to a bonfire next to the electrical sub-station on the Circular Road in Newtownards, Co. Down.

Gareth Gill (51) of Abbot’s Walk, Newtownards pleaded guilty to two charges under the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997, for which he was fined £150 each and ordered to pay a £15 offender’s levy

On June 25, 2018, PSNI officers went to Gill’s yard, where they found a large amount of waste consisting of scrap wood, pallets, carpet and underlay.

Discussion with Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) officers confirmed the site...
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